“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Hope Beyond Despair, by Randall D. Kittle


“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

Faith is the bridge between the spiritual and the natural. It is upon this bridge of faith that those things from the invisible, eternal kingdom of God are realized with a tangible presence in this natural, earthly realm. It is by faith that we obtain what we are hoping for — for faith is the substance of those very things. Faith is the evidence; hope the expectation.

Now a bridge can be very wide and very strong, but unless there is something to pass over this bridge there is very little value in having it. A bridge that connects two totally deserted islands accomplishes nothing. In like manner, faith in God and in the qualities of His character produces nothing unless we first have a hope in our hearts for it to fulfill.

Faith: The Multiplying Factor
At a point of discouragement in my life, a friend came up to me while I was kneeling at the altar and asked if I had faith for things to be better. My response was “I have faith for all the hope that’s within my heart” — which was easy to say because there was no hope inside my heart. Faith is the multiplying factor, which multiples whatsoever is planted in our hearts. The level of faith determines how much it is multiplied — whether it is thirty, sixty, or one hundred fold. “But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Mark 4:8). The substance that is multiplied by our faith is what we are hoping for.

In mathematics, any number multiplied by zero will still give you zero. It doesn’t matter if its thirty times zero or one hundred times zero. The product is zero. Spiritually speaking it is the same — no matter how much faith we might have, if we have no hope, the only substance that can result from our faith is … nothing. Regardless of our level of faith, whether it is small (thirty fold) or large (a hundred fold), if there is no hope in our hearts, there is nothing to multiply. Remember, anything multiplied by zero is still zero.

The Promise Keeper
Matthew Henry once said “Faith is the mother of hope.” Hope is conceived in our hearts when we grab hold of a promise. Faith then gives birth to the hope that is growing within. We need both hope and faith: hope to lay hold of the promise, and faith to bring it into existence. In Second Peter 3:9 it tells us “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” Yet, we often perceive any delay as not only slowness, but God’s unwillingness to fulfill His promises. When the fulfillment of the promises is delayed beyond our timetable, we feel that God has broken His promise to us. But God is ever faithful — He is the perfect Promise Keeper. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Although God is always faithful to His promises, when it seems they have been broken because of delay, the enemy comes to steal our hope. Satan knows the tremendous importance of hope far more clearly than most of the church. He knows that without hope there is no substance to our faith. If hope is truly the child we are to bear by faith, much of the church is barren.

Without hope we not only have no substance to our faith, we will find ourselves slipping into the darkness of despair. Nothing grieves a child of God so much as when God’s face is hid from him. When the promises wait unfulfilled, we feel like God has hidden His face from us. If the sun is obscured by clouds, the earth is darkened; but when the soul is clouded from perceiving the presence of the Light of the Son, a dungeon of darkness engulfs the soul. When all hope is gone, the darkness of despair enshrouds our soul, and we are unable to lay hold of even the most basic promises of God.

Release From Darkness
Recently, the Lord gave me a vision of how the enemy uses the darkness of despair to keep us in captivity. I saw what looked like a huge bird cage. It was very large, perhaps forty feet tall, and completely occluded from the outside by a dense, dark covering. There was no sound coming from inside the cage, and I was not able to see through the covering into the cage. On one side of the cage I noticed a very tiny opening that upon closer inspection turned out to be a keyhole. Although it was a keyhole, the lock faced inside so that even with the key it could only be opened from the inside. Through the keyhole I could see a man sitting in the darkness of this cage looking hopeless and despondent.

Outside of the cage was a very large tool chest filled with various tools. There was a sharp utility knife called "Truth," a saw named "Discernment," a screwdriver labeled "Unity," a hammer identified as "Boldness," as well as many other tools. All of these tools, however, were far too large to fit through the tiny keyhole. Suddenly, I saw in the tool chest a key that looked to be the same size as the keyhole. Written upon it was the word “Promise.” It was small enough to get through the opening and into the cage of captivity. I picked up the key of promise and, though it was a tight fit and took some time, I pushed it through the keyhole until it fell to the floor of the cage.

After the key was in the cage, I heard the prisoner moving about. He did not pick it up and open the door, however, because in the darkness he could not see the key. In fact, as I looked through the keyhole into the cage, I could see the floor was strewn with keys of promise that others had slid through the keyhole only to have them fall to the floor and remain there — unused and unfulfilled.

I then realized the prisoner was in the darkness of discouragement and needed the light of hope to see the key of promise that lay before him. I prayed for hope to come like a mighty fire from heaven. Suddenly, there was a fiery blast from above, which engulfed the covered cage. These flames poured against the covering for quite some time, but when they finally subsided, the cage stood there still wearing its charred cover. The outside of the covering was flame resistant.

Just as I was about to believe that nothing could set this captive one free, I glanced back into the tool chest and saw a very small lighter that seemed to be glowing. After I had picked up this little lighter, I could see the word “Hope” beautiful engraved upon it. It was small enough to fit through the keyhole, and once inside its glow drew the prisoner’s attention. I watched the prisoner look upon the little lighter named Hope with a perplexed look. As he picked it up, the grip of despair was gradually loosened from his countenance, and began to be replaced with a glimmer of belief. As hope began to replace despair, his appearance continued to brighten to that of expectation. He took the little lighter of Hope and striking it, set the covering of despair on fire. It quickly burned up and was gone.

Once hope removed the covering of despair, the prisoner was able to see the key of promise that lay on the floor of the cage. He took hold of it and used it to open the door — finally stepping out into freedom.

Hope Beyond Despair
The enemy has many believers bound by sins or held captive by spirits of apathy, fear, and intimidation. When they are not able to free themselves from these restraints, their outlook dims, and clouds of despair begin to envelop them. God in His great love has given them magnificent promises; promises of freedom and victory. “He has given us his very great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4). Even though God’s very character is faithfulness, despair darkens their vision so they cannot see His precious promises. Many of God’s promises lay dormant and fruitless, like seeds that have been planted but are without water.

It is not enough for us to have a promise. We must lay hold of it by having hope it will come true. We sometimes diminish the value of hope like it is common dust, nothing more valuable than an ordinary Bic® lighter. But if hope were dust it would be coal dust. For just as coal dust hidden in the darkness of the earth, and laying dormant under tremendous pressure becomes a diamond, if you hold onto hope through the darkness and pressures of life it will become something precious — an answered promise.

It is not the hope of others that can set us free from the dark covering of discouragement. Only the gift of God’s hope within our hearts can set us free from the darkness. It is the Lord alone who can place this hope within you. In order for the Lord to give you a new hope, however, you must choose to pick up the weapon of hope — others cannot do it for you. You must be willing to open your heart’s door to Him. You may need to bring to Jesus your hurts, your loss, and your disappointments from the past, which have robbed you of your hope. After allowing Him to heal these wounds, you can again fully open your heart to receive new hope from the Lord.

The light of His hope will allow you to see that you are not alone; that there is a way of escape. His provision has been there for you all along, waiting for you to lay hold of it. Many things will be birthed through faith as we are set free from captivity, leaving dark despair behind.

Out Of The Darkness
The creation account in Genesis tells us that the Spirit of God was hovering over the empty, formless, darkness of the earth, and “Then God said, ‘Let their be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:2–3). God has been speaking light into the dark and empty places of the earth ever since. He has called us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness” (1Thessalonians 5:5).

But not only are we sons of the day called out of the darkness, He has commissioned us to bring release from darkness to others. The Lord has anointed the Church with the power of His Holy Spirit to bring the Gospel to the world.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1). Part of this Good News is to bring “release from darkness for the prisoners,” to go to those in despair and help them find hope. Isaiah 61 goes on to say that for those set free from the prison of darkness the Lord will “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3). The Lord wants to bring His hope to those held by the spirit of despair that they might be set free and be clothed with praise for Him.

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