How to Share the Gift of Hope with Others
“Rest in God alone, O my soul, for my hope comes from Him” (Psalm 62:5).
Just a few years ago, most people felt like they were on pretty solid ground. But now they find themselves in circumstances they would never have predicted. People are feeling anxious and are dealing with unprecedented pressures. Many are anxious, worried about what the future will bring. Faced with staggering inflation, high interest rates, 401ks that have dropped in value, moral decay, and threats of layoffs looming large, it seems that hope itself has been collectively sucked out of the lives of so many people.
Yet, against this backdrop God stands with outstretched arms, beckoning us to shift our hope from temporal things – things that are here today and gone tomorrow – and to place our hope in Him. In Christ, we have been given this promise:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
It’s a different kind of hope than worldly hope. It’s enduring and enables us to hope in the face of hopelessness. It has the audacity to remain at peace in the midst of the worst storms of life.
One that keeps on praying and praising in the face of life’s obstacles.
God encourages us to share this hope with the people of the world who find themselves in desperate need. Like the woman who had a life-altering encounter with Jesus at a dusty Samarian well, we can give this gift of hope to others!
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Rejected and Outcast
Her story tells the account of a time Jesus was travelling through Samaria and rested by a well. His disciples had gone into the nearby town to buy food.
“So He left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually He came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water” (John 4:3-7).
After engaging her curiosity with His strange conversation, He revealed to her what her real problem was: hopelessness.
“’Go and get your husband,’ Jesus told her. ‘I don’t have a husband,’ the woman replied. Jesus said, ‘You’re right! You don’t have a husband — for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you must be a prophet’” (John 4:16-19).
This personal history was extremely uncommon in the culture of ancient Israel. We aren’t told why she was married so many times. Perhaps her husbands simply died, or left her for other women because she was barren. Maybe she was argumentative and intolerable to live with. We just don’t know. What we do know is she had some real issues that needed to be dealt with.
In fact, it appears that her fundamental problem was trying to anchor her hope in finding just the right relationship. If I could just find the right man, then all my hopes and dreams will come true.
But when hope is anchored to finding just the right relationship, it’s certain to end in disappointment. You could say she was looking for hope in all the wrong places.
Everyone in that small town would have known her scandalous history. John’s account says she came to draw water at the well at the 6th hour (noon), when the sun was scorching hot and beating down.
Noon time – when no one else would be there to draw water.
Usually, people would go to the well early in the morning, so that they could use the water to get daily chores and cooking done. But presumably she didn’t want to deal with all the whispers and sideways glances… there she is, the town harlot!
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The woman was also spiritually thirsty, so much so she drew the attention and compassion of God. In answer to her heart’s cry, Jesus made a special trip to Samaria to give this woman what she really desired, rest for her soul and a reason to hope again.
And in so doing, Jesus demonstrated how we can give that same gift of hope to others during the storms of life.
Jesus was travelling to Galilee through Samaria after ministering to crowds in Judea. He was weary from the long walk, and thirsty from the scorching noonday heat.
Curiously, John states: He had to go through Samaria on the way.
But that was not typical for the day; most Jews would not have gone into the region of Samaria at all, because of its checkered history.
This area of the Promised Land was allotted to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. King Omri named the area Samaria, which became the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, while Jerusalem was capital of the Southern kingdom of Judea.
Over time, Samaria suffered at the hands of foreign conquering armies. New people moved in to settle in their land, introducing pagan Baal worship into the local communities. They intermarried with the native Jews and created a new, mixed-race of people – the Samarians.
These people were distained and mocked as half-breeds and apostates. Religious Jews hated them so much that they wouldn’t even walk through their countryside, although it was the shortest route to Galilee.
But Jesus had to go through Samaria because He had a divine appointment to give the gift of hope to someone who was hopeless. He was willing to be inconvenienced and uncomfortable for a person who needed hope, and so He shared Himself.
Do you know what message that sends to people when we do the same for them? It says that they are important, they matter, and there is still hope for them.
Who is that person in your life?
God may be asking you to share your time with them – a visit to say they are remembered, loved and appreciated. God may be asking you to share your treasure or talent with them – to meet a need, and remind them that they will make it through.
How can you give people the gift of hope? Share yourself!
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Share Your Kindness
When I picture this woman talking with Jesus, I picture Carla, the New York waitress on the TV series, Cheers. I imagine a woman who has become jaded, angry, sarcastic and even a bit mean.
“Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, ‘You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?’” (John 4:7-9).
In other words, she was saying, what’s your deal? You Jews are supposed to hate me and avoid me entirely. You’re not even supposed to talk to me, especially since I am a woman!
It was so out of the norm that she was utterly shocked. But clearly Jesus understood something about kindness. When we are kind, we can often provide much needed hope to the recipients of that kindness. It’s something we should always do.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
Moreover, when Jesus offered the woman human kindness, it opened the door so that He could reveal Himself and the ultimate gift of Godly hope: salvation.
Related article: The Samaritans: Hope from the History of a Hated People
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Share Your Faith
Because Jesus selflessly shared Himself and was kind despite her crankiness, He was able to share with her who He was.
“’Please, sir,’ the woman said, ‘give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water’” (John 4:15).
At this point, I personally don’t believe her words were said with sincerity, but rather with a touch of sarcasm. And more than likely, they were the last words she spoke before turning her back on Jesus and beginning to walk away.
Jesus counters with the heavy artillery. He says, “Go and get your husband.”
Suddenly the stranger got a little too close for comfort and presumably, she felt exposed. She quickly changed the subject back to the Jew and Samaritan religious disputes.
“’So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?’ Jesus replied, ‘Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming — indeed it’s here now — when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth’” (John 4:20-24).
In essence, what Jesus said is what gave her true hope. It’s not about Jews and Samaritans, or mountains and temples anymore. It’s about you and your relationship with God.
It’s about that hole created in your heart when you placed your hope in the wrong things, relationships and other people. But I’m here to offer you a different kind of hope that will lift you from the guilt of your past, and free you to hope in a Father who loves and values you.
“The woman said, ‘I know the Messiah is coming — the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus told her, ‘I Am the Messiah!’” (John 4:25-26).
Jesus shared a lot of things with her that day, but the greatest thing He shared with her is who He was, that He was the Messiah, the One who would save her from herself and her sin.
She actually needed hope that lifted her beyond her temporary heartache and pain of life. She needed a hope that broke the back of her insecurity. She needed to know that she was still loved, still valuable and that she still mattered to God.
She found that hope in Christ Jesus.
So share yourself with people, share your kindness with them too, but by all means, don’t forget to share your faith in Christ!
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Share Your Testimony
“The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village” (John 4:28).
The woman’s waterpot was symbolic of her hopelessness. It represented her life of isolation, rejection, and punishing noonday visits to the village well outside of polite society.
It embodied pain, insecurity and every useless thing she had placed her hope in before she met Jesus. And it was symbolic of her spiritual thirst for a real and lasting love relationship.
But after her divine appointment that day, she found a true anchor for her hope. She left the waterpot behind and ran to share her story, the Good News, with those very same village people, passing the gift on to others.
“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did’” (John 4:39).
She was free from rejection and shame, and she wanted to let everyone know. And because of the woman’s courage to share her testimony, the townspeople came out to hear Jesus minister, and they too experienced new life and real hope.
Always share yourself, your kindness and your faith. But remember, the best way to give the gift of hope to others is to share your story. Because if God will do it for you, He’ll do it for them!
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Frank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc. Photo by Michele Roman.