Hope for Desperate Hearts
By: Maggie Meadows Cooper
“When they came out to see Him, they begged Him to stay in their village. So He stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear His message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard Him ourselves. Now we know that He is indeed the Savior of the world.” - John 4:40-42
Desperate. What do you think of when you hear that word? Most of us probably imagine a negative connotation. Some needy person who longs for another person to fulfill them? Someone who is not self-sufficient or has made bad choices that have left them in sad predicaments? That might be the case. But as I was reading John the other day I came to think of this word in a completely different light.
According to Merriam-Webster, desperate means “having lost hope or moved by despair.” If someone is desperate, they have usually come to the end of his/her rope. They have realized they can’t make it on their own. Acting out in desperation can be pretty darn ugly.
But not if we are desperate for Jesus.
In John 4, we have the well-known story of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (or the Woman at the Well). This particular story is one of my favorites and has so many places to dig in and learn. But it’s the interaction with the Samaritan villagers that caught my attention recently.
The Samaritan Woman has talked with Jesus, realized He is the Messiah, and gone to tell the villagers who she met. This was their response:
“When they came out to see Him, they begged Him to stay in their village. So He stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear His message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard Him ourselves.
Now we know that He is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:40-42
It can be scary to show our vulnerable side. To admit that we can’t make it on our own. To show our desperation for more than this life can give. But knowing that Jesus will accept us, love us, protect us, and ultimately, be our everything, should help us to see that we can, and should, turn to Him in desperate times for hope. Here are three things we can learn from the Samaritan villagers:
1. Don’t be afraid to show Jesus (and others) how desperate you are for Him.
After the Samaritan Woman ran back and told them that Jesus told her everything she ever did, they went out to see Him. That might not be unusual because I’m sure they were curious. But when they saw Him, they “begged him to stay in their village.” If it was me, I think I might have been intrigued, but wouldn’t have wanted to bother Him. I don’t know that I would have had the boldness to not only speak up, but “beg” Him to stay. It might have seemed weak...or weird. To Him and the others standing around. But y’all, Jesus already knows how much we need Him. The question is, do we?
2. Take advantage of your time with Him.
The story goes on to tell us that He stayed for two days, “long enough for many more to hear his message and believe.” It appears that for the time they had Jesus, the Samaritan people took a time-out. They gave Him their full attention, and in turn, received life-giving hope.
I don’t know about you, but there are days I plan to spend time with Jesus. I carve out a few minutes in my busy schedule, but then, I allow all the little distractions to keep me from really hearing Him. It turns into a half-way listening/reading experience because I have kids yelling and phones buzzing and a million other to-do’s running through my head. I check it off my list and move on. But if we want to experience the fullness of His love, we have to choose to meet Him with our whole hearts and minds. Knowing that time with Him can be limited in the day-to-day should spur us on to be intentional in our scheduling.
3. Just hearing about Jesus isn’t enough. You need to experience Him for yourself.
And after he left, the people said to the Woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves.” Y’all, listening to stories about Jesus is one thing. Reading accounts of His goodness can warm your heart and plant seeds. But nothing...nothing...is like feeling His presence for yourself. It makes me think of Job when he said, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you” in Job 42:5.
Desperate situations make you do things you never would. Some of those things can be negative. But the beauty of desperation lies in the fact that sometimes, when we are pushed to the brink, that is where we finally lay it all down for Jesus...and find Him waiting with open arms. Sometimes, He allows hard things in our lives because He knows that’s where we’ll meet Him.
The Samaritan people were not any different from us. We all need Jesus. But will we follow their example?
Call on His name.
Soak up every second you can with Him.
And truly seek to experience Him for yourself.
They say desperate times call for desperate measures. And nothing should have us more desperate than our need for Jesus.
Maggie Meadows Cooper is a wife, mom, educator, author, and blogger with a longing for women to grow a heart for Jesus and others. She is the author of the children’s book “Bumper” and blogs at The Little Moments about what the Lord is teaching her through her children and everyday life. She contributes to Blogs by Christian Women, Devotional Diva, She Disciples, and Connecting Ministries. An educator with a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Auburn University (War Eagle!), she has twenty years of experience working with young children. She loves all things chocolate, real Coca-Cola, and lives with her husband, three children, and two rambunctious dogs in Opelika, Alabama.
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