Years ago Crabb and Allender identified four questions hurting people ask: What’s wrong? Who can help? What will the helper do? What can I hope for?
I also appreciate their observation that not all therapies are created equal. Those offering help as well as the tools they use are built upon assumptions and beliefs. Counseling therapy, even a socratic approach, is not neutral.
Here’s a question of my own. When people seek help, from where do they think hope arises?
How people respond can vary widely. Nevertheless, in general terms people will reach for hope in one of two areas. They will either look for hope within this world or from beyond this world.
Some look to humanity. As such they might lean on their own understanding or what their friends think in order to discover the best way forward. Others might rely upon finances, power, possessions or any number of things within this world as the answer for tomorrow.
These viewpoints would be reasonable if humanity was nothing more than naturalistic lucky biological slime. Crises and injustices would merely be another meaningless aspect of life. Enduring purpose, meaning, and justice would not exist.
Thus the quality of hope would be immeasurable reduced. We would eke out our bleak existence grasping at self-created illusions. One of those illusions would be hope.
Ecclesiastes’ vivisection of “life under the sun” long ago exposed this dead end. It revealed what life would be like without God. Without God, there is no hope within this world.
However, everything changes if God has spoken and acted through his Son. For if God has raised Jesus from the dead, then Christ provided us with real answers regarding how life should be lived. Furthermore, Paul’s affirmations in Ephesians would be true. God has the power to enable our messy lives to experience a new beginning.
To be sure, following God’s ways could dramatically rearrange how we live. However, hope, objective guidance, meaning and fulfillment would all be attainable.
Hope does exists. It is anchored in God.
Sometimes people will sit in their cars debating with themselves whether to enter a worship service or talk with a Christian counselor. They are wondering whether there really is hope for them inside. If they enter, may they be pointed to the hope that originates from outside of creation – a hope rooted in the Creator!