A recent study showed that more Americans than ever before are suffering from depression, stress, and anxiety. It doesn't go into the reasons but I can surmise that it has a lot to do with hope...the absence of hope. It only goes to reason in today's crazy politicized, immoral, violent, and super charged society, where every ounce of bad news is made known almost instantaneously, that there is a very real sense of gloom and despair. Often when the future looks hopeless and you find yourself in a no way out situation, you can experience anxiety, stress and even depression.
My wife and I experienced that on a small scale during our recent vacation to Yellowstone. We had flown to Denver, rented a car and drove to Yellowstone, spending time in Grand Teton National Park on the way up. It was a fantastic trip, but while we were in Yellowstone an unexpected storm dumped a large amount of snow throughout Wyoming and Colorado. On our way back to Denver, we stayed overnight in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
We got up early the next day to drive the remaining 300 miles to Denver only to find that Interstate 80 was closed because of the huge amount of snowfall. So we programmed our GPS to give us another route and we headed out on a state road south of Rock Springs that was the fastest course to Denver.
I had a half a tank of gas and had planned to get gas in Colorado, figuring it would be cheaper. But as we traveled away from Rock Springs and began to examine our route we realized that we were out in the middle of nowhere. There were no towns, not even farm or ranch houses, and there were few cars on the road, which was fairly clear except for some spotty ice. We only had a map of Wyoming and a slim part of northern Colorado. When we lost connection for our GPS, I really began to become anxious. The further we got from Rock Springs the more worried I became. I didn't want to turn back and waste all that time but the path ahead was very uncertain and I didn't know if we had enough gas to get to the next town and we couldn't even see another town.
When we hit the Colorado border the highway turned into a dirt road! I'm thinking, they closed an interstate highway and I'm on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and there are storm clouds ahead! Now I had gone from anxious to near panic mode. I had lost most all hope because I didn't have any confidence in where I as going, no road map or clear path.
So even though we had driven for a full hour, we turned around and went back to Rock Springs to try another route. As we headed out of Rock Springs a sign declared, "road closed ahead, take alternative route," so we turned back again and sought some advice at the visitor center. We were told there was a third route which required us to backtrack even further but it seemed to be open and the road was a state highway.
Off we went after filling the gas tank, and headed to Denver a third time. It took us a lot longer but the route was clear and the scenery was spectacular. Having a full tank of gas and a confident path, knowing my destination made all the difference in the world. All the stress and anxiety was lifted and I could enjoy the trip and the incredible mountains and canyons of Utah and Colorado.
I was reminded of the verse in 1 Peter 3:15 which says "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."
Having hope, knowing the destination, and that no matter what we are going through, Jesus is with us and we will be victorious in the end makes all the difference in how we live our lives today. Without hope, it is difficult to have joy and peace. With hope we can enjoy life even when we go through the storms of life. It is this hope that is missing in so many of our citizens today. Everyone needs the hope of Jesus Christ and the assurance that even death is not our final destination.
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