Hope...it's the one thing that makes life bearable.  It is the one thing we cannot live without.  What's that?  You say love is the one thing we can't live without?  I bet to differ.  I hate to find myself in disagreement with the Beatles (All You Need Is Love) but I must take issue.  If you find yourself without love you can always hope that love will come. But if you find yourself without hope, you will find you are at the end of your rope.

Hunter S. Thompson, age 67 died Sunday night, February 21 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  How could this popular, counterculture author who popularized a new form of fictional journalism known as "gonzo journalism" decide life was no longer worth living?  I don't know the details but or the particulars but I know this...somehow, somewhere he lost all hope.  Hople lifts us over the speed bumps of life allowing us to move on down the road rathe rthan believe all that is left is the exit ramp.  When hope is gone, all that is left is depair and despair cannot be endured for long.

If you ask any prisoner of war who suffered merciless torture at the hands of hsi captors for years he will tell you the reason he survived...hope.  If you ask someone who was lost at sea, adrift in the endless waves or someone lost in the wilderness, endlessly wandering, looking for the way out they will tell you what kept them going was hope.

Look at the lives of the rich and famous. Their riches and fame can give them wealth ad glory but they cannot deliver hope. Ernest Hemmingway was another well known writer who lived life as big as it gets.  He drank from whatever cup he chose, experiencig more than a lifetime of experiences in a lifetime.  Yet, he too reached a point where he looked around and realized despair was his only companion. When that realization hit him, he chose to exit this world rather than live a moment longer without hope.

Scientist and researchers at Duke University in North Carolina coducted an interesting experiment.  They took some lab rats and sealed half the rats in a container of water where there was no obvious way of escape.  They sealed the other half in a container of water where escape appeared possible.  The rates in the container with no hope swam for a few minutes, ducked their heads and drowned.  The rats in the other container, where a way of escape seemed possible swam for hours not willing to give up until they were totally exhausted. 

What can we learn from this?  It tells us the importance of hope.  Tell me there is hope and I am good for the fight of my life.  Tell me there is no hope and despair will drag me under without a fight.

The Christian worldview offers hope.  In fact, Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly."  The Psalmist said, "Why are you in despair, O mmy soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him" (Psalm 42:5-6).  Did you hear the voice of the Psalmist?  His soul was disturbed within him to the point of despair but because he knew God, he knew hope.

John and Shannon Petit experienced the depth of despair annd the rescuing power of hope.  They serve as Southern Baptist missionaries in Thailand.  On February 10trh of this year, their 10 year old son, John Jr. fell down a waterfall while the family was hiking through the countryside.  John tried desperately to get to his son who ended up face down in the water after falling more than 30ft.  Scrambling down the steep incline next to the falls, John arrived too late to revive his son.  As you can imagine, the entire family was devastated by John Junior's death. 

In the wake of his death, there are questions which beg to be answered.  How could this happen to a family who surrendered to the call of God for missions? If it must happen, how could it happen to one so young?

You know these questions and many others must have haunted the family but the exorcism of these spirits of doubt came quickly for John Sr.  Of his son's death he wrote, "Although my soul is grief stricken that he is not here with me I am proud that my boy has run the race, he has received the prize; he has touched the face of God." 

That, my friends, is rescuing hope.  It his hope that pulled this family out of the mire of despair and put their feet on the rock of the promise of eternal life to all who believe in Christ. 

You see, when we are on the road to despair, hope never leaves us without an exit ramp.  When Jesus said," I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly"(John 10:10), he meant life here and now as well as life everlasting.  When we place our hope in something beyond ourselves, we can live with whatever life dishes out.

There is so much despair in the world today. There are so many people who look over the edge of their own existence and see nothing that gives them hope.  In the 70's people went on personal pilgrimages to "find themselves."  Problem is they didn't like what they found.  "Finding themselves" simply reaffirmed what they suspected all along....life without a focus on the divine is void of meaning.

Do you lack hope?  The Christian worldview can offer you something more than an existence filled with despair.  It is a worldview that offers the promise of the forgiveness of sins and of eternal life.  It offers hope.  And for the Christian, hope is more than a vague longing for deliverance.  It is as sure as the promise of God.