“Hold on to hope.” What exactly does that mean?
Hope is more than wishful thinking. The Bible tells us that we find hope when we flee to God “for refuge” (Hebrews 6:18). It describes this hope as a sure and steadfast “anchor of the soul” that fixes itself in the solid reality of God’s presence (Hebrews 6:19).
Hope: An Anchor for the Soul
Hope in the scriptural sense is about clinging to the good we can’t see even in the midst of the bad we can’t escape. It has nothing to do with human expectations. It’s not a matter of solving or fixing the problem. Instead, it’s the confidence that God is with you and that He will carry you through somehow. That’s why the writer of Hebrews compares it to an anchor. It’s the thing that holds you firm in the fiercest storm.
Staying Anchored: Four Final Affirmations
With that thought in mind, we can bring our journey to a close by affirming four vital spiritual truths. Note the modifier spiritual. In the course of this study we’ve accessed useful information from several different fields: medicine, physiology, psychology, and sociology. We’ve armed ourselves against teen suicide with every weapon we could get our hands on. But in the end we have to admit that, where life and death are concerned, ultimate answers can’t be found within the realm of purely human knowledge. We unlock those mysteries only through the exercise of our faith.
What does the Christian faith have to say to us in answer to such questions? We can summarize its message in four statements.
God Is Sovereign Over All
If you’ve been affected by suicide, it’s crucial to maintain your sense of perspective. When faced with something so overwhelming, most of us can’t help but lose sight of the bigger picture. The universe is a vast place, yet God controls every inch of it. He is always in charge, even when we don’t understand what He’s up to. Your pain and confusion have not escaped His notice. He has a plan for you, and He will bring it to fulfillment:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Christ Is Our Healer and Protector
The notion that God is sovereign can be cold comfort to a grieving parent if it isn’t combined with the thought that God is also active and involved. He cares about your situation and wants to do something for you. Jesus Christ has not merely suffered on your behalf; He also suffers with you. His wounds have the power to heal and make you whole (Isaiah 53:5). He will give you beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3) and turn your mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11). Lean into His love. It’s important to add that a big part of the hope and healing of God’s presence is found in fellowship with His people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for the support and understanding you need.
The Holy Spirit is our helper. This may be the most important piece of the puzzle. Our sovereign, healing God is neither impersonal nor distant. He desires to live within your heart and revive you from the inside out. His indwelling Spirit will lift you up and intercede on your behalf when your words have run out and your strength is gone (Romans 8:26). He is the Helper Jesus sends to us in the midst of our grief and pain (John 16:5-7), and He has promised to turn our sorrows into joy (John 16:20).
Prayer Changes Things
We can top all this off with one last reassuring thought: God hears us when we pray. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,” writes Isaiah, “or his ear dull, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). When you’re hopeless, anxious, grieving, and empty inside, let prayer be your lifeline. Prayer is your entrée into the protective circle of God’s never-failing, watchful care. It’s a weapon with which you can fend off all the “flaming darts of the evil one” who wants to crush you beneath a burden of guilt and despair (Ephesians 6:16). Whatever else happens, then, stay on your knees. The Lord will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
Who Needs to Know?
God doesn’t want you to bear your burdens alone. An important part of keeping hope alive is reaching out to others for help and support. But this needs to be done with discretion and in strict confidentiality. You can spare yourself a lot of unnecessary pain by keeping the following distinctions in mind:
Secrets: When the people who need to know don’t
Gossip: When the people who don’t need to know do
Confidentiality: When the people who need to know do, and others don’t
In the end, it’s important to remember one simple concept: hope is undying. Hope that is real and rooted in the right place can never be destroyed. No matter who you are or what your state of mind, this essential truth is true for you. It’s true for those who are so weighed down by life that they can’t think of anything but escape. It’s true for the people who love them and don’t want to see them make a terrible mistake. It’s even true for those whose worst nightmares seem to have come true. When the night is darkest, God is still standing by your side.
Indeed, that’s when the light of His hope shines the brightest.