Jentezen Franklin - The Power Of A Little Bit Of Hope
I wanna share today a message that God has laid on my heart. I don't have time to go into it and read it, but in 1 Samuel 30, there's this story. I've preached on it many times. It's the story of David and Ziklag. What happens at Ziklag was a fire that burned down his house and everything that he had. The Amalekites kidnapped his family. It was the lowest point in David's life. His men spoke of stoning him. They had followed him all their life. David, I believe, at that moment was suffering from post-traumatic stress. Seriously.
Lemme just give you a lead up to it. When he was a teenager, his own father didn't believe in him. His father had eight sons, and when the prophet came and said one of your boys is gonna be king of Israel, he called for all the boys to be considered and looked at except for David. He left David in the field because the father didn't even believe in his son named David. Jesse, the father, didn't believe in his son named David. He said he's not... he made up his mind that he was not king material. These other boys are talented and gifted, but that one'll never amount to anything. Not only that, but when he finally made it to the palace as a musician to play for King Saul, he suffered tremendous workplace harassment when spears started coming at him because the king became jealous.
David thought to himself, I know how I'll fix this. I'll marry the king's daughter because marriage fixes everything. Only to complicate his already complicated family dynamic of a father-in-law who hated him, now he married the daughter of that king. And the Bible said that she despised him, and she criticized him continually every day of his life, mocking him and criticizing him. Doing it publicly. I don't mind if Cherise tells me private things, but when she does it in public, it embarrasses me. And I'm sure I embarrass her a lot. But do you understand what I'm saying? What is going on? And then on top of that, the Bible tells us that they had a son... or a daughter, and the daughter was molested by a family member.
Post-traumatic stress. The power. The pain when a family goes through something like that. If that's not enough, they had a son, and the son rose in a take-over attempt of the kingdom and was killed in the process. Family fighting family. Family attacking family in the middle of all of this trouble. If that were not enough, after family fights family, and all of this stuff, David, in post-traumatic stress, after losing everything, and his house burning down, problem after problem, setback after setback, I think on a bad day, the enemy caught him at an amazing weak time. And David commits adultery. David has killed the husband of the woman that he committed adultery with and got pregnant. He hits the lowest point in his life.
And it's in that moment, there at Ziklag, when he's finally at the zenith of all the crises, one after another, setback, after setback, after setback, and now he's at the lowest day when the ashes are there. His family has been kidnapped. His home has burned to the ground. His men are speaking of stoning him. The Bible said that David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. He encouraged himself. Isn't it amazing? That he was going through the same thing the mighty men were going through that talked about stoning him, and they stopped blaming themself at some point, and they turned and started blaming him. But the reaction was totally different. Instead of turning on one another, he turned to God and began to encourage himself in the middle of discouraging circumstances.
Now here's where I wanna go. I wanna talk to you for just a few minutes left аbout: "The Power of a Little Bit of Hope". The power of a little bit of hope. There's a doctor (and you can research it) who studied people who had been through tremendous setbacks in life. Divorces, or abuses, or rapes, or bankruptcy, or losing everything. And he did this study. And here's how he did the study. He came up with a term called learned helplessness. Learned helplessness. This is a psychological term.
Now listen to this. What they did is they noticed how that people in India trained elephants. They get 'em when they're little. They take a chain and put it on their leg, and it's chained to a post that's cemented in the ground. And that little baby elephant will go as far as the chain will let it, and then it can't go any further. And at some point, it tries over, and over, and over until it can't go anymore, and it finally stops trying. As the elephant gets bigger and larger and larger, amazingly, they put 'em in a traveling zoo or something, and all it takes is a little stake. A wood stake driven into the ground with a piece of rope on it's ankle.
This massive elephant, half the size of the stage that I'm on. He will walk, and when he feels the tug of that rope, he will stop because mentally he's learned what they call "learned helplessness". I give up. I'm not even gonna try. Even though he's mighty enough to, just fling his leg, and he could go anywhere he wanted to go, but they have learned helplessness. They said in the same study that they took rats, and they put rats in water. Now listen to this. And those rats were swimming, and they swam for 10 minutes, and then they drowned. He got some more rats. I don't know where he got 'em. He might a got 'em from New York. I'm not sure where he got 'em. But he got rats, and he put 'em in water again.
And this time, at about nine and half minutes, those rats were just really holding themselves, you could see the panic. You could see that they knew they were about to go under the water. And at nine and a half minutes, he reaches in and pulls them out, and dries them off, and feeds them, and gets 'em comfortable. And they stay there for about an hour or so, listen. He put them back in the water, and this time they didn't swim ten minutes. They swam 18 minutes. And then they started getting that panicky look, and so he pulls them out, and he gets them warm, and takes care of 'em, and puts 'em back in the same tank of water, and they swam 30 minutes. He keeps doing this, and literally those rats swam 37 hours.
And this psychologist said if you can learn helplessness, you can learn optimism and hope. And the rats have come to preach to you this morning. That if you can get a little bit a hope, you can keep on swimming. You can keep on believing. You can stay in faith. But sometimes you just need a little bit a hope. Because faith is the substance of things hoped for. The smallest level of faith (first blank you need to fill in) is hope. The smallest level of faith is hope.
Faith is not mountain-moving faith at first. It just starts with your hoping for something. Your hoping to see your kid get off drugs. Your hoping that your marriage is gonna get better. Your hoping that a door's gonna open. Your hoping that you're gonna meet somebody that'll love God as much as you. Your hoping that you're gonna get a job in this economy. Faith in it's smallest embryo stage begins with hope. You cannot lose hope. Its the power of a little bit a hope.
The thing, I believe those little rats got to thinking at nine and a half minutes the second time, you know what? We're just gonna keep on swimming. Because I know from experience there's a hand that's gonna reach in. And when I can't take it anymore, its gonna take me out. Its gonna provide for me. Its gonna comfort me. And every time they would get to the point of the voice saying give up, they made a decision. I'm not going to lay down to helplessness. I know there's a hand that's gonna lift me up again. If He saved you before, He'll save you again. If He's provided for you before, He'll provide for you again. Take a praise break and give God a shout of praise.
Now watch this. I'm sorry if I'm screaming, especially to those of you at the front. But you'll be alright. Alright, so then the military took this man's study, and they spent $145 million developing a program for soldiers who had been through tremendous, dramatic experiences. Maybe losing limbs, or all kinds of battle situations, or addictions. And they spent $145 million to come up with this program. A university in South Carolina and West Point science, they all came up with this thing called PERMA. And you've got the outline. And lemme give it to you, and I promise I can do it in seven minutes. Let's see. I've got five points. I can do it in seven minutes. Are you ready? Say I'm gonna get something outta this. Say I'm glad I'm in church right now. Alright, are you ready for this?
Now what got me is it took them $145 million, and I'm not putting it down. It's amazing. But everything that they came up with is right outta the scripture, and it's called PERMA. It's an acronym. P-E-R-M-A. The program is called PERMA. You can look this up. And it represents five things that has to happen (look at me, everybody) for somebody who's had a setback to have a comeback. America has had a setback. Every family under the sound of my voice has had a setback probably. We've been living in hell for six months, ladies and gentlemen. How many of you've had setback after setback?
Well, here's how you come back from a setback. It's called PERMA. And the P represents positive emotions. They talked about how that if a person is gonna come out of depression, and out of the trauma, and out of the pain, and out of just talking about it all the time, and what happened, and how bad it was, they've got to get in their life, in the midst of trauma and crisis, positive emotions. And they don't call it this, but I wanna tell you what positive emotions are. It's called the joy of the Lord. Nehemiah 8. He said in Psalms 16, He shows me the path of life, and at His right hand, in His presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures for evermore. He said in Jeremiah 15 that His word was sent to me, and it was a rejoicing in my heart for I am called by His name.
The way that you get positive emotions is you begin to focus, and this is what they said in the study that blew my mind. They said you must, you must, it helps to find a hero character much like in Greek mythology. This is what the study says. Of someone who went into Hades, went through hell, came out, and shows you how to live. And I'm setting there reading that, and I'm thinking, my God. I know somebody who went to hell, and came out of hell, and shows me how to live.
Well, I've come to preach today that there is one who is able to give you joy. In John 16, Jesus said the joy that I give you shall remain in yourself. He said may it remain in, He prayed to the Father. He said to the Father, let the joy that I give them remain inside of them. You can have joy all by yourself. Listen to me this morning. I refuse to let any of you precious people leave here with those negative, defeated, beat up emotions. It's time for some positive emotions called the joy of the Lord is my strength. Now I'm gonna tell you the next point is how you get into it. How many of you would like to have positive emotions again? Get up with a smile again. Instead of growling Positive emotions.
The second thing is called engagement. They actually said that, and they used this word. They said if you're going to overcome, you cannot keep isolated. At some point, you've gotta engage. At some point, you gotta come off of the bench and get in the game of life again. At some point, you've gotta quit soaking in your sorrows, and licking your wounds, and you've got to get up and engage. And then they actually say this in that study, PERMA. The guy on the part of engagement uses these words. You gotta get back in the flow. And I thought well, that's the flow of worship. We've gotta engage the presence of God again. We can't let these singers this morning do all the praising. We've gotta engage the presence of God. And when I engage in praise, when I engage His presence, I engage my hope. I engage my faith. I engage my will to keep going and to believe.
I'm saying to somebody that you're closer than you think you are to your breakthrough. And you almost felt like giving up, and you probably still are questioning in your mind. It's been so long. It's never going to change. But the Lord sent me to tell you about the rats this morning. That they kept on swimming because they knew there was a faithful hand that had always provided, and it's not going to fail you now. It will deliver your children, your family, your home, your business. God is on the throne, but we've gotta engage Him in worship. So here's how we do that. That's why you have to turn people off, and you just lift those hands. And when they sing it in another moment, we're gonna sing it, and we're going to engage the presence of God.
The third thing that the R stands for is relationships. That God says at some point, or this psychologist says it, but the Bible backs it up. He didn't know he was preaching a good sermon outline. That if you're gonna come back from your setback, you gotta get to a place that you develop relationships with people again. Get your relationships strong. We need each other. One can put a thousand to flight. Two, ten thousand. If any two of you will agree. I need you. I need you. You need me. The devil's always... isn't he dividing us? Isn't he tearing us to pieces? I don't care where you come from or what you like or you don't like. I need you. Turn to somebody and mumble through your mask, I need you. I need this. Relationships. The R(P, E, R). Relationships.
The M stands for mission. If you're gonna overcome your setback and have a comeback, you gotta have a little bit a hope like the rat. But at some point, you need a mission. You need something bigger than yourself. There it is. The church. The kingdom. The cross. If you're gonna get past that divorce and the hurt, if you're gonna get past that failure, if you're gonna get past that addiction, you need a mission. And He said I know the plans that I have for you. Plans of good and not evil. To give you hope and to give you a future. You've got a mission. Young people, you've got a mission. Teenagers, God has not changed His mind about your calling and your purpose just because COVID has hit. You're still gonna do everything God called you to do. Don't you lose hope. Don't you say well, the world's all messed up, and everything's messed up, and college is messed up, and school is messed up. I promise you, God's gonna fix it. Almost done.
But the last one, the A stands for accomplishments. Gotta have some wins. You need a fresh victory. When you just get hit, and hit, and hit, and kicked, and beat up, and beat down, and you go to work, and all hell breaks loose. You come home, and all hell breaks loose. You get an IRS letter. You get this. You get that. And it's like, good God. You just need a little accomplishment. I just need one little sign that you're with me, Lord. The Bible said we are more than conquerors.
You know what a conqueror is? Lemme give you a hypothetical. A conqueror is somebody who, let's say you lived in the poorest neighborhood. In a pitiful house. Drugs, violence, immorality. Maybe didn't have anybody in your whole family that made it out. But you became a conqueror. You went to school. You stayed in school. You graduated. Went to college. Fought your way through. Kicked loose. Learned optimism instead of helplessness. Got a little bit a hope, and kept on swimming, and got all the way out. And now you got a big ol' house, and you're blessed. Beautiful family. That's a conqueror. But can I tell you what is more than a conqueror?
A conqueror is when you get out. More than a conqueror is when you got back in. And you say, I'm going right back to the hell hole that I came out of. I'm gonna buy that ol' drug house, and I'm gonna turn it into a rehab. And I'm gonna grab all these people who say they can't get out, and I'm gonna pluck 'em out and pull 'em out because I'm more than a conqueror. I'm not just coming out. I'm going back in and pulling somebody out. Come on and shout right there. You missed a good chance. How many of you were former alcoholics? Lemme see your hand. How many of you were former drug addicts? You couldn't shake it. Your mama and everybody thought there's no way you'll ever change. But you know what God's gonna do? You're gonna be a conqueror, but He's not gonna stop there. You're gonna be more than a conqueror, and you're gonna see accomplishments like you never dreamed. Clap your hands and praise God if you believe it.