Hopeless people need determined friends

By Greg Laurie

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed hopeless – leaving you feeling helpless?

Maybe you felt as though you had hit bottom, and there was no way out. Maybe you had certain goals you had set in life, and you felt that once you reached those goals, you knew you would be happy and fulfilled. But it didn’t work out that way.

Not long ago, I read an article about a young financial pro who committed suicide. She was just 28 years old and a rising star in the virtual-currency world. It made absolutely no sense to me. Why in the world would this attractive, supremely talented young woman take her own life? According to this same article, there had been eight suspected financial sector suicides in that year alone. This included a 33-year-old J. P. Morgan employee who jumped off the J. P. Morgan building in Hong Kong.

What’s going on? Here are young men and women, clearly successful in their field, who are in complete despair! Years ago I read about a German billionaire who encountered some financial stress, and took his own life. At the time of his death, he was worth $8.2 billion. But wait! Even if he lost half of his fortune he would still have had $4.1 billion left. And what if he only had a billion? Do you think you could make it with that?

It’s so obvious. There are so many people in today’s world who feel utterly helpless and hopeless. And it doesn’t seem to matter how much fame or attention or money they have acquired.

In chapter 5 of his gospel, Dr. Luke tells the story of a helpless man who had no doubt lost all hope – and possibly the will to live. Even though a young man, he was paralyzed, unable to walk and completely dependent on others. We also learn that he may have been struggling with guilt, remembering sins he had committed in the past.

I think back to the suicide of that young woman in the financial sector. I saw her picture in the magazine. She was healthy, brilliant and quickly advancing in her field. She seemed to have everything – everything but hope.

The paralyzed man in Luke 5 had none of those earthly advantages. From the world’s point of view, his situation was hopeless. But he did have one thing going for him; he had four determined friends who were willing to do anything to bring him to Jesus.

Jesus had been teaching in a house packed with listeners. The paralyzed man’s buddies, carrying him on a sleeping mat, tried to squeeze him in through the front door – but there was no way. People were crammed into the space like proverbial sardines.

But that didn’t stop these guys. They carried their friend up to the roof and started dismantling ceiling tiles. Ignoring the surprised exclamations of the people below who had to contend with the dust and debris, they lowered their friend on his mat down into the crowd. Right in front of Jesus.

Luke records the scene. “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, ‘Young man, your sins are forgiven.’ But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, ‘Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!’ Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, ‘Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say “Your sins are forgiven,” or “Stand up and walk”? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.’ Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!’

“And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God” (Luke 5:18-24).

These guys loved their disabled friend, and would not take no for an answer. Do you have friends like that?

I wonder if those eight men and women in the financial world had friends like that? I wish someone could have spoken to the young woman and said, “Look, I know you’ve been dealing with some depression. I know things haven’t made much sense for you lately. But why don’t you come to church with me this Sunday? What do you have to lose? Why don’t we get a cup of coffee and talk. I’d like to tell you how Jesus gave me hope and changed my life.”

Had anyone said anything like that to the young man on top of the building in Hong Kong? Had anyone spoken to him about Jesus or given him a Christian book or invited him to church? Like the paralyzed man on the mat, he needed Jesus. Desperately.

What happened in Luke 5 in that crowded house is still happening to this very day. Despondent, nearly-hopeless people are still being introduced to Jesus, and still finding that He is more than enough to lift them out of their despair.

There is a place where my family and I go for coffee every now and then. While I am waiting for my coffee to come, I walk into the little sunglasses store next door. For weeks, I had been striking up a conversation with the young woman who worked there. After a while, I started to share the Gospel with her. On one of the visits, I gave her one of my books. Every time we would go out for coffee, I would talk to her a little bit more.

Then one day I noticed that she wasn’t there anymore, and I wondered where she had gone. Not long after that I was in the same coffee shop with a friend when this same girl came walking up with a big smile on her face. “Hey, how are you?” I said. “I haven’t seen you for a long time. Do you still work in that store?”

“No,” she said, “I don’t work there anymore.” But I could see she had something to tell me.

“Guess what happened to me,” she said.

“What?”

“I became a Christian!”

I said, “Tell me how it happened.”

She said, “I just looked at you and your family and how happy you always seemed. And I looked at other Christians who came into the coffee shop, and how happy they were. I thought to myself, ‘Why do they get to be happy and I’m not happy? I want that too!'” And she committed her life to Jesus Christ.

It’s no different today than it was 2,000 years ago. Hopeless people – despairing, despondent people – still need the hope and healing only Jesus can bring.

You and I need to be more determined than ever about speaking of Him and telling others how He has changed our lives. People need hope and are helpless to climb out of their despair alone.

Despite whatever obstacles we may encounter, we need to bring people to Jesus.

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