Author: Ron Graham

Six Steps

Helpless, Hapless, Hopeless
— and How to Change It

Do you feel helpless, in need of someone to rescue and support you? Do you feel hapless, at the mercy of things you can't control? Do you feel hopeless, life's all gone wrong and you have no future? You can change that.

1 Helpless

You may feel that you are helpless, unable to help yourself, in need of someone to rescue and support you.

Sometimes we feel like King David who prayed, "Oh, God please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless" (Psalm 108:12).

But David says next, "With God we will gain victory" (Psalm 108:13).

This message is all over the Bible. For example, "Do not fear, for I am with you. Don't be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10). There's no reason at all why "you" cannot mean YOU!

And then there's that well known text: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

This promise is not just for olden times when those words were written. The promise of help from God is still true today for you.

"Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you" (1Peter 5:7). I say again, there's no reason at all why "you" cannot mean YOU!

The promise of God’s help is timeless. David wrote of God’s help 1000 years before Peter wrote of the same. You don't really think, do you, that after 2000 more years the promise of God’s help is no longer true and valid?

Jesus says, "Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29)

A yoke is a bow-shaped crosspiece as part of the harness of beasts of burden. It joins two or more animals together such that they share the burden they are pulling. When you take the Lord’s yoke upon you, his strength is imparted to you.

2 Hapless

You may feel that you are hapless, at the mercy of circumstances over which you have no control, pushed around, hurt, and got at.

"Paul got shipwrecked; Joseph got sold into slavery; Daniel got thrown to lions; Jeremiah got thrown down a well; Elisha got taunted by wicked youths; Jonah got swallowed by a huge fish; Jesus got nailed to a cross. The list could be continued at length. Bad stuff happens. It happened to them, and it happens to you.

Do you think God doesn't know about your troubles or doesn't care? Jesus said, "Not one little bird can fall to the ground without your Father knowing" (Matthew 10:29). If God has in mind a hapless sparrow, surely he has in mind a hapless you.

Some people think that if something bad happens to you, someone must be to blame. Often it's God they blame. But God does no wrong. We should trust him, not blame him. He is in control. God works all things together for good to those who love God, those called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28)

All things, even misfortunes, can be "worked together" by God for our benefit. We may not understand why we got into trouble, or how God will get us out of it. But he is at work. One day we will see the good that results, and know we were right to trust God.

3 Hopeless

You may feel hopeless, thinking that everything has gone wrong and you have no future.

There is always hope. Paul says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that your hope may overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

Notice that God is called the "God of hope" and we are empowered to hope by the Holy Spirit. Hope comes from God, not from the chances of this world. Since hope comes from God, two things are true. First no matter what we suffer, nothing can take hope from us. Second, our hope is a glorious hope —since hope is from God, "hope does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5).

You can take a lesson from Abraham and Sarah: "Against all hope, Abraham in hope trusted God" (Romans 4:18). From an earth-bound point of view, there was no hope of Abraham having a son by Sarah. She was "barren and past age... as good as dead" (Hebrews 11:11-12). But she trusted God, relied on his promise, and what she and Abraham hoped for came true —a baby boy.

Whether or not you have much to hope for in this life, the hope God gives you for the next world far outshines anything in this present world. "I consider that the present pain we suffer cannot be compared with the glory to be revealed to us..." (Romans 8:18-21).

If you trust in God, you are never really helpless, hapless, or hopeless. Remember that, won't you?