I would like to start this article with an absolute statement: The thing that matters most in life is relationship!
You might be asking, what gives you the authority to make such a statement? It’s not about authority or expertise, it’s really about experience.
Observing people lose their loved ones has taught me the importance of relationships. As we have been confronted with so much tragedy in the past few weeks, we are all reminded of the importance of love and care for those close to us, but most importantly to those afflicted by such events.
The Bible tells us that God created us for relationship: to be connected to others! This is an audacious claim in a society like ours that values autonomy and independence — SELF!!! The autonomous, independent, and self-glorifying values our culture holds contributes to a world of broken relationships that leads us to the lack of trust in one another, but most importantly to hopelessness!
Throughout my years of pastoring individuals and couples, I have found that hope is an essential ingredient to sustain any relationship through difficult times.
Without hope people become frustrated in their attempt to resolve difficult issues. When the fighting starts, despair sets in, the relationship becomes stagnant. Some give up entirely and seek isolation, separation, and in marital relationships people seek divorce.
People who see no hope can feel discouraged, heartsick, anxious, stressed, and angry. As a person is beaten down further and hope fades away, it turns into giving up, apathy, lifelessness — just going through the motions, more like a robot than a human being with free will, self-determination, and great potential. The good characteristics that reflect our humanity that was given to us by our Creator God can be buried under the avalanche of hopelessness. Hopelessness has the power to suck the life and resilience out of any relationship we hold.
Therefore, it is critical that you personally find and live out hope and that you encourage those around you: fellow Christians, friends, co-workers, spouse, family members, to become hopeful and to live hopeful lives.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 will help us not only understand the importance of relationships, but also how to put hope back into our relationships.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (ESV)
Let me summarize these verses: Life is not about ME it’s about US! God didn’t add another day to your life because you needed it. He did it because someone out there needs you and that is HOPE!
Before we go any further, we need to define HOPE. The Greek word in the Bible for hope is the word ἐλπίς — eipis, which means: “to look forward to in confidence expectation of receiving something that is good and beneficial.”
Relationships were created by God to bring this expected confidence that when connecting with those around us we would receive and give everything that is good and beneficial to the one we are connecting with.
We were created by God to bring good to others and they to us. It reminds me of the call of God to Abraham and His people, “I will bless you so that you can be a blessing to those around you” (Genesis 12:12).
The Bible also talks about where hope comes from, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13, ESV).
Hope, joy, and peace are in the Hands of God! The lack of God in your life will show itself by the lack of hope, joy, and peace!
Therefore, a wise first step in finding hope for the struggles in your relationships is to seek the God of hope. Seeking the Lord with all your heart is where hope and healing begins.
Are you willing to ask the Lord of Hope through the power of His Spirit to fill your heart with hope to bring healing to your relationships?
Sam Rosa is the senior minister at Delaware Christian Church.