Charles Stanley - When All Hope Is Gone
The word hope is a very, very important word. It's a word of optimism, a word of cheerfulness, expectation. All of us need hope about many different things in life. And when you have hope, you do anticipate; you expect; you look forward to something. When you have no hope, there's a sense of dread. You find yourself in the muck and mire of something that you can't put your finger on. Where is my hope? In other words, what am I living for?
And there are multitudes of people today who do not have any hope. They don't have any hope about their marriage. They have no hope about their children. They have no hope about their health, about their finances, about their future, about their job, their profession. They have no hope about life itself, and they have no hope about life after death. They have no hope about eternity. They're living in the muck and mire of this sense of existence, but going nowhere. They're just there. That's never the intent of Almighty God. He intends for us to have goals in our life; to have a sense of confidence and assurance; And many people don't have it.
And what I want to talk about in this message is a beautiful example of a person who absolutely was hopeless. There was nothing about their life that gave them hope. And I trust that you will identify with it because it has a wonderful ending, but a very bad beginning. So, if you'll turn if you will in your Bible to John chapter four, and let's read a few verses of this chapter. Let's start with this first verse to give you a little background, all right? "Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John, Although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were". And I thought this was, this said something about Jesus.
That is, He didn't want to take away from anything about John. He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. "And He had to pass through Samaria. He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph: And Jacob's well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour". Or about twelve o'clock noon, "There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink.' For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, 'How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?' (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, "Give Me a drink," you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.' She said to Him, 'Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?' Jesus answered and said to her, 'Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up in to eternal life.' The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.'"
This is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible of people who are hopeless and helpless, don't have anywhere to turn. There's nothing good about it. And I want you to look at this woman for a moment and see what hopelessness is all about; and what can happen in a person's life when they become hopeless. Sometimes people are hopeless because of what they've done. Because the way they've lived; because decisions that they've made. And then sometimes it's not always that person's fault.
And so, when I think about this woman, I want to give you a little description of her. Number one, she'd been married five times; and she was living in an adulterous situation, immoral situation with a man she was living with at that particular time. And, of course, having been married five times, she had suffered a lot of difficulty and hardship with these first five men or they would have still been there. She must have been a pretty good-looking gal to have attracted five men. And so there she was. And one of the problems though is that she'd endured terrible rejection from the community. To have been married five times in a small community, she was the talk of the community. There was nothing they could say good about her. What kind of woman is this who has been married five times and divorced and now she decided just to live with this guy and not even be married to him. And so, she seems to have been trapped by this insatiable sexual desire to have her needs met or to meet somebody else's needs. She was emotionally empty. To be married five times, nothing works emotionally. So she was empty; and seemingly failed to meet the needs of these lovers of hers.
And so, she felt very morally dirty. You ever felt that-a-way? Am I talking to somebody who feels morally dirty? That because of decisions that you've made in your life, you feel dirty spiritually. You feel dirty emotionally. You could be in a situation just as badly as she was. You've tried it all and nothing worked. You've been there and it didn't make any difference. You've been loved by this one and loved by that one and hated by this one and hated by the other, and used by all of them, and nothing satisfied you. You don't have anywhere to go. All of your goals and dreams have been shattered; and the truth is, you don't have anything to hope for. At this point in your life, your sinfulness, your disobedience or your rebellion, you turned off God a long time ago.
So where are you in life? You're lost. It's dark, dingy, dismal; and there you are. It's like being in a swamp emotionally. There's nothing there that is attractive to you. And so you've sort of given up. But given up to what? Given up, why? And given up when. Those are the things you have to think about. And I think there are many women today and men who have no hope. This is the reason some people commit crime. They can't see any hope of doing anything. At least in prison you could have friends. At least in prison, you've got three meals a day and a place to eat and you can even watch TV. There are a lot of people who are very, very hopeless. And we're living in a time when more people are hopeless. And this is why they cross borders. This is why they do anything to find a little hope and a little help. And yet even that doesn't work.
And so, this is where she was at this point. And then a personal encounter with Jesus Christ radically changed her life. And it's radically changing people's lives today. And so, when you think about who she was and what was going on in her life at this particular point, she's coming to the well to draw water for the day, but she's coming at noontime, which was not the right time. But she came at noontime because they women didn't want to be around her, they ostracized her, and it just made her feel worse to try to be there when everybody else was there.
So in the middle of the day, here she comes for water. And strangely, this man is sitting there. He sent His disciples into town to buy food. And looking at Him and knowing that He was a Jew and she was a Samaritan, she was shocked when He said, Give me a drink of water. And her response was, What do You mean, give You a drink of water? You're a Jew; I'm a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans do not have anything to do with each other. And You certainly wouldn't expect me to draw Your water for You. And Jesus in His quiet and loving way, began a conversation with her. And all of a sudden, she realized that the barriers were coming down within her; because the barrier was there.
First of all, she was talking to a man alone. That in itself was enough. The fact that He was a Jew and she was a Samaritan, all of those barriers were coming down. She couldn't tell you why. She just knew that there was something about Him that attracted her that had nothing to do with what usually attracted her, something physical. And she began to listen. And "Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink.'" That's what started the conversation. And He said to her, He said, You give me a drink and I'll give you a drink of living water. And so, Jesus began to talk with her and they began to chat, and so Jesus distinguished between this well-water and the other water that He was talking about. And so, she enthusiastically asked Him for it.
And so, when He had described it, she, "The woman said to Him, 'Sir,'" listen to that, how she addressed Him, "Sir, give me this water, I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here again". And then Jesus "said to her". That sort of disrupted the conversation because everything was moving right along and He was talking about living water and then all of a sudden He "said 'call your husband.'" Oh my, messed the conversation up terrible. And so, "call your husband". And she told Him the truth. She said, I don't have a husband. He said, watch this, You're correct; you don't. But you have had five. And you're living with a man now who is not your husband. But watch how He said that. He did not condemn her. He said, You're right; you don't have one, but you're living with one who is not your husband.
Notice how Jesus changed that conversation. Not by criticizing her, but by simply asking her a question. And so, what He's doing, He's leading her to realize where she is emotionally, where she is physically, where she is spiritually. Now, what she did is what a lot of people do today. When you start talking to them about the Lord, all of a sudden they want to change the subject. So if you'll notice what happens when she said that, "The woman said, 'Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.'" And then she said, "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that".
And she changed the subject. She wanted to start talking about worship. Jesus didn't want to talk about that. He did-a give her a little explanation here and there, but He said, I want to tell you about My water. My water is, He said, My water is living water. And she said, He said here, "Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up in eternal life. Springing up into eternal life. 'Sir, give me this water.' Springing up". Listen, Not just water, but springing, this water springs up into eternal life. And He had her attention, absolutely. And as they began to talk and He said to her, as they began to talk, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth".
And so, then He comes back. The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming, He who is called Christ; when that One comes, He will declare all things to me". And then, "Jesus said to her, 'I am the one you're looking for. I am the Messiah.'" Can you imagine what she must have thought? First of all, she approached this man to hate Him because He was a Jew. And in this conversation, because He accepted her and loved her and waited for her to come to the right conclusion, "He said to her, 'I who speak to you am He.'" And about this time the disciples come. And they come back and they're surprised because He's talking to this woman, and which no rabbi as we say would possibly be talking to one, and especially her. Of all people, He wouldn't be talking to her.
But it's interesting what the scripture says that they didn't say to Him, What are You doing talking to her? Or why do You speak to this woman? So in the process, the scripture says all of a sudden she "left her waterpot". Now the Bible is so perfect about the words that the writer used because it's interesting here, the scripture says she left it. She was no longer interested in a waterpot. He had done something to her life all of a sudden like she had never felt before because why would she accept Him so quickly. She accepted Him so quickly because when He approached her, He didn't condemn her. A Jew would have. He did not criticize her. He saw something within her that made her see something within Him. For some strange reason she felt accepted by Him. For some strange reason, she saw something in Him that she'd never seen in a man before.
All of a sudden she felt love for the first time from any man. And so, when His disciples came, she left that waterpot and took off running. And where did she go? She went to the one place that you wouldn't expect her to go. She went to the very people who despised her, rejected her, criticized her, shunned her, shut her out of their lives. And notice what the scripture says, "From the city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all things that I have done.' So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and so He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; And they were saying to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'"
When I think about this woman, she became the city evangelist. I mean she went from the lowest rung to the highest. She was the one who announced to them the Messiah. She's the first one who knew of Him. And so when she went back, you say, Well, you know, if they had rejected her like you say they have, how could she be so accepted? I'll tell you why. Because they'd seen this woman who was full of hopelessness and despair and discouragement and just dismal in her spirit. When she came to the city, that's not what they saw. She was excited. And she was full of life. And she walked in like she was the queen, not like she was rejected. Why? Because God had absolutely changed her life. Jesus had saved her when she said, and realized that He was the Messiah, she accepted Him as the Messiah and, listen, she didn't go home. She did what she should have done.
She was so absolutely revolutionized in her life that the first thing she wanted to do is to go tell everybody in town. I mean, all those women who had gossiped about her; all those men who had used her; everybody who had abused her in any way, what did she do? She wanted them to know this Messiah that had absolutely changed her life and she could never be the same again. Are you one of those persons who's feeling hopeless? Nobody cares; nobody's interested in you. You've had all kind of experiences. You've had all kind of things and you've been with all kind of people, but somehow there's something missing in your life.
Well, the same thing that's missing in your life is the same thing missing in her life. Until you are willing to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, listen carefully, you will keep on drinking from the same old wells of sex, alcohol, drugs, money, or on and on and on and we could go of things that people keep drinking of. And here's the problem. All of those things are like saltwater. When you are thirsty, you don't want to drink saltwater. Why? Because it makes you more thirsty. And this is why people get hooked on things as we've just mentioned, and many different kind of things.
They think, Well, if I get enough of this I'll be fine. No, you can't get enough money, enough sex. You can't get enough recognition from anybody. You can't get enough of any of those things to take the place of what God created you for and that's to be one of His children. Because you see, God created You for Himself. He created you for Himself and He sent Jesus Christ into this world to pay your sin debt in full so that you could become the person God intended you to be so that He could take care of all of your sins. He could give you a sense of personhood. He could give you a sense of feeling like somebody. He could give you a sense of future. He could give you a sense of satisfaction and confidence and security.
Only Jesus Christ can do that. It doesn't make any difference who you are, where you've been and how down you may feel, if you're willing to say to the Lord Jesus, Jesus, I'm asking You to forgive me of all my sin. And I believe that You went to the cross, and when You shed Your blood at Calvary, You paid my sin debt in full. Thank You, Lord, that You can cleanse my life. And I'm trusting You to forgive me. And I'm receiving You as my personal Savior. That's just like being in a desert and somebody bringing you a whole bucket of ice water and saying, Help yourself. You'll never be the same again. And that's my prayer for you.
And Father, how grateful we are You do not condemn us. You desire to save us. You don't forgive us a part of our sins, but all of them. Not in part, but the whole as we sing. We feel helpless, but You know You change all of that. And we pray today in the name of Jesus, that every single person who hears this message who's never been saved, who finds themselves in all kind of circumstances and situations, would trust You as their personal Savior. By simply asking You to forgive them of their sins and surrendering their life to You. And making a missionary, Father, to somebody out of their testimony. And this we pray in Jesus' name, amen.
If you're one of those persons whoever you are and wherever you are, you can stop right where you are. If you're home by yourself, maybe in a one room apartment somewhere or in some palatial palace, you have it all but the one thing your heart desires, one thing you're hungering for. If you're willing to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, it doesn't make any difference how deep down in the muck and mire you are, He pulls you out. You don't have to beg; you don't have to plead; you don't have to promise; you just ask Him and believe He'll do it.