What Happens When People Lose Hope?

When spouses lose hope, they give up on their marriage. Parents give up on their teens. Leaders give up on their people. Healthy emotions like contentment and peace are replaced with the toxic emotions of confusion, shame, worry, and disappointment. In short, it’s impossible to be spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, or relationally healthy when we’re gripped by discouragement.

Howard Hendricks gave a gripping definition of discouragement: “Discouragement is the anesthetic the devil uses on a person just before he reaches in and carves out his heart.” He’s right. When people lose hope, they lose their ability to dream for the future. Despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces prayer. Insecurity replaces confidence. Tomorrow’s dreams are replaced by nightmares. It’s a lousy way to live.

Think hope doesn’t make a difference? Let’s get real for a second. Two people are walking in your direction. One of them is the most encouraging person you know. The other is the most discouraging person you know. Which one do you want to spend time with? That is true in every setting.

In fact, picture what happens when a person of genuine hope comes into your life. All it takes is one. In a flash, the whole atmosphere changes. The impossible actually starts to look possible (think Steve Jobs). Defeat starts to look like it could be turned to victory (think Peyton Manning). Difficult things begin to look like they might actually be possible (think Nelson Mandela). Courage replaces fear, and strength chases away powerlessness.

Yes, hope is that important!

In my next blog, I’m going to talk about the eleven major differences the presence of hope and confidence creates.


It’s only possible to be spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, or relationally healthy when we live with a high level of hope.