It’s human nature. We tend to see the negative. We can quickly identify the areas in which we’re falling short. We’re not growing enough. We’re not praying enough. We could be doing more. We can quickly begin to beat up on ourselves and give up in discouragement.
For sure, it’s helpful to acknowledge reality. There’s no use pretending we’re farther along than we really are. Maybe we are falling short in some areas. In fact, I guarantee it! But there’s hope for us at every stage, even when we feel discouraged.
Jesus Meets Us Where We Are
I can’t think of a single example in which Jesus hesitated to meet a person right where they were. In his life, Jesus met all kinds of people. He was quick to confront them, comfort them, teach them, ask questions. But he always began where they were. He has no problem meeting us in our current state.
I’ve noticed something surprising. Jesus was often harsh with those who pretended they were farther along than they were, and he was often gentle with those who admitted their need.
The lesson: Jesus is willing to meet us where we are. Be honest with him. If you’re struggling, tell him so. He’s willing to help us in our need.
There's Grace for This Moment
We tend to think that God meets us when we’re doing well, and that he shuns us when we struggle. The reality: God is gracious to the struggling. He isn’t as impressed with our successes as we are, and he never turns away when we come to him looking for grace.
God welcomes us to come. When we take the low place, acknowledge our need of him, and ask for his help, he gives more grace. There’s grace for this very moment if you ask for it, even for — especially for — those in need.
We Can Take the Next Step
The essence of hopelessness if feeling like there’s no hope for improvement. People tend to do okay when they’re in a tough situation but know it will get better. What’s hard is when we’re in a tough situation and don’t see any hope for change.
The gospel gives us hope: God is at work in us, even in our weakness. He transforms sinners into saints. He takes those who have lost all hope and fills them with his Spirit. God gives up on nobody. All who trust in him can take the next step in trust, knowing that God welcomes all who cast themselves on him.
Take hope, not in yourself, but in Jesus. He gives more grace. He will never turn you away when you come to him. There’s hope for us at every stage.