Finding a Hope-Filled Faith When You’re Feeling Empty

Written by Paul Millarc on Mar 28, 2020 in Encouragement

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:13 (NIV)

Once in awhile, and more often lately, I’ll build up the courage to be honest with myself and come to grips with the feeling that I’m spiritually down and not doing okay. 

While I’ve become quite skilled over the years at controlling my environment, conquering my calendar, and predicting the pace of my life with watch-like precision, sometimes, and especially nowadays, I fail at all the above. With the continuing COVID-19 saga permeating headlines, the nagging frustration of navigating uncharted cultural norms, and the constant dealing with that voice that tells me I’m not doing enough, resting in God’s hope can feel harder than ever. This is especially true when others are looking to you to receive the hope that they themselves are just not feeling. 

If you’re a ministry leader, perhaps you’re feeling like I have been lately. While life is tough for everyone, the people that we’re ministering to can miss the fact that the tough times also affect pastors in a very real way. 

We can be honest; we are not impervious to the broken world in which we minister. We get exhausted, burned out, anxious, frustrated, and lonely. You may be reading this while feeling that your spiritual tank is on “E.” If you've been feeling this way, I encourage you to schedule a call to speak to a team member at StartCHURCH. We would love to pray with you and come alongside you during these trying times. 

That growing emptiness in our hearts can often be traced back to our inadequacies and weaknesses. However, God can certainly use the emptiness and frustration we feel for His glory. Those inadequacies and weaknesses have an amazing way of moving us away from self-reliance, self-control, even self-absorption, and are often the exact path God uses for us to recommit our reliance in Him and grow in our depth of dependence. When the frustrations nagged the Apostle Paul to the point of crying out in desperation, he learned in a very real and life-changing way that God’s grace is sufficient and that His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). 

Filling the emptiness

In Romans 15:13, the Apostle Paul prays that believers would be filled with joy and peace by the God of Hope. 

Here’s a truth that I want you to soak in: God fills His children with hope, and this miracle is more precious and beautiful when His children feel especially empty. 

Remember the empty jug of oil the widow at Zarephath had when she met Elijah? (1 Kings 17:16) The Bible says that her resources had run out, and she was ready to die due to a drought in the land. She was completely out of hope. She went to prepare what she thought was her final meal for her and her son when God intervened through the prophet Elijah in a complete turn of events. The speck of flour and few drops of oil left in her jug soon became a continuous supply of God’s provision until the drought came to an end (1 Kings 17:14). God filled her jar with oil and her heart with hope.

Later, the prophet Elisha would continue this legacy of filling with a similar widow who had only emptiness in her life (2 Kings 4). Her jar and her friend’s jars were filled with oil and God’s grace as her needs were also met. God loves to fill the emptiness in our lives. 

Remember the wine that had run out at the wedding Jesus was attending in Cana? (John 2:1-11) When Mary tells Jesus that the wedding was out of wine, Jesus had six stone water jars filled to the brim with water and turned the water into wine. Not only did the wine bring joy at the wedding (John 2:10), but more importantly, the filled jars revealed Jesus’ glory causing his disciples to believe in Him (John 2:11).  

Back to the emptiness that creeps into our lives. You see, it’s this emptiness that God uses to fill us with joy, peace, and hope. It’s the perfect space for the God of hope to fill, one of His choicest canvases to display the power of His peace. In fact, the hope he fills us with breaks the brim and overflows in the heart of his children through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit’s comfort

The Holy Spirit is the one who causes this great hope we have to overflow in us (Romans 15:13). One way God makes room for this hope in our hearts is to remove things in our heart that are taking up too much space and aren’t useful to Him. Pride, selfishness, idleness, independence; all of these must be emptied and cast out for joy, peace, and hope to come in. When we are filled with the Spirit and resting our hope squarely on God, joy, peace, and hope overflow through our thoughts, actions, and speech. 

This is a supernatural work. No amount of wishful, positive thoughts can renew my mind with hope like the Spirit can (Ephesians 4:23). Peace doesn’t come when I have my entire life ordered and in my control, it will only come when I’m governed by the Spirit (Romans 8:6). It is the comforter Himself infusing my life with the truths of God’s rule and reign breaking through fear, doubt, and depression, and blossoming into God’s beautiful joy and peace. 

Brothers and sisters, these are trying days. You don’t have to have all the answers, and it’s okay to struggle with some of the uncertainties of the days ahead. At the same time, there is an overflow of hope available to you by the power of the Holy Spirit. The God of Hope desires to fill you with all joy and peace and make you a channel of hope to others. This is not of ourselves; it’s the Lord’s work in us to display His greatness. Rest in His work of both emptying and filling as you continue to cling to Him in faith and in love.

Prayer for finding hope:
Father, I give you my heart, my emotions, and all of my affections to you, Lord. I ask that you fill me with supernatural joy, peace, and faith to believe that you will overflow in the midst of scarcity, bring your power into my weaknesses, and prove yourself to be indeed, the God of Hope. Allow me to rest in your perfect love and perfect plan for my life, continually pointing others to you in all things.

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Raul Rivera

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