Ever feel hopeless?
I know I have.
In studying the attributes of the Orphan Spirit, I learned that hopelessness is huge. I am so passionate about educating the Western Church on how the Orphan Spirit operates that I am going to share a FREE chapter out of my book, All the King's Orphans. (You can order the whole book here.)
Please share this link with others. You never know who is hiding behind a mask of hopelessness and despair and identifying the Orphan Spirit can help them walk in freedom and joy!
Spirit of Hopelessness
Staring out the window, Barbara sighed.
What was the point?
Nothing had changed. And nothing would change.
What did she have to look forward to but misery piled on misery. Sorrow added to doom.
It was everywhere – in the news, in her family, at work, the gym, her Sunday School class and now this. Her home.
Barbara watched as her husband of thirty-seven years loaded the final box into the back of his crossover. Closing the back hatch, he turned and let his eyes meet hers.
There was nothing left to say.
It was over.
Thirty-seven years of what? Certainly not wedded bliss!
Eric opened his mouth as if to say something but then closed it again. Climbing into the driver’s seat, he started the engine, closed the door… and drove away.
Unable to hold back the tears any longer, Barbara buried her head in her hands and wept.
Little changed in the long year following Eric’s departure. Barbara made several attempts to pull herself together but found no reason to do so. Most days were spent grieving what once was. Those years when she, Eric and the boys had enjoyed summer nights in the backyard. They had tossed the football back and forth while she tended her garden.
Those days were gone forever.
They, Eric and the boys, were gone forever.
One by choice, two by death.
Perhaps that was when it all fell apart – that long ago day Bruce nervously sat his parents down and told them that he was sorry. He loved them, after all. Knew their religious beliefs, but…he couldn’t help it.
He was gay.
The shouting that ensued was devastating.
The words thrown out in anger, cruel.
The tears, endless.
The relationship between father and son, fractured beyond repair.
Bruce left that night. Eric said he didn’t care, “No child of mine is going to be gay!” He was after all, a minster of the Gospel! He had a reputation…a standard to uphold. He’d done his level best - how could God let this happen now when they had served Him so faithfully for so many years?
David took it especially hard –the broken relationship. He and Bruce had entered her world only fourteen minutes apart – identical down to the small mole on the back of their necks. The loss was difficult for him and with the unexpected exit of both his brother and best friend, David struggled to find his way.
Several months after Bruce left, David joined the Army and, just like that, Eric and Barbara were empty nesters. The big house and backyard full of memories was no longer needed, so they placed a For Sale sign in the yard and moved to a tiny home four blocks away.
The years passed – David succeeded in the military, eventually becoming a captain. His parents beamed with pride over his accomplishments. How Barbara wished Bruce would be standing next to her in the family photos. But he was never there. Never invited. Eric had put his foot down and she knew there was little wisdom in questioning his authority.
Then one day, the phone rang. To her complete surprise, it was Bruce. He’d found her phone number on the Internet, he’d said. And was it ok that he called? Yes, yes, she’d assured him. Was it really four years since she’d last seen him? How she missed her boy!
They talked for an hour until Barbara had heard Eric’s car pull in the drive. Hoping Bruce would understand, she begged him to call again, but she needed to go before Eric came through the door.
Eric hadn’t noticed a difference in her voice, although she knew she sounded happier. She tried to keep her excitement at bay, knowing Eric wouldn’t approve of her talking to their son.
She needn’t have worried. Eric was in the middle of writing a sermon series for their tiny congregation. She glanced over his shoulder, not surprised to see he was coming at his favorite subject yet again – Death and Destruction, the title read. Beneath it were the words, Earth’s Final Days.
Barbara picked up his empty coffee cup and moved towards the sink. She knew better than to suggest a different topic. Eric took his calling to warn sinners of the coming doom seriously . Trouble was, a scarce number of people found their way into the pews of their little church each Sunday, leaving Eric with only a faithful few to preach to.
Barbara remembered the sermons he used to preach – back when they were filled with hope and encouragement. But after Bruce’s highly unexpected and very unwelcome announcement, Eric had changed.
Even his sermons had changed.
Maybe it was out of a genuine love and concern for his son’s salvation, but the fact was, Eric was using fear tactics in order to entice people to the throne of God. Barbara wasn’t convinced it was working.
She would never admit it to Eric but she was tired of hearing it. Tired of hearing the endless predictions, tired of the warnings of the impending sorrow, tired of wondering what tomorrow might bring. “I’m going to the garden,” she tossed into the quiet air but Eric never stirred.
Sighing, she opened the back door and stepped outside. Looking up into the darkness, she gazed at the gold specks littering the sky. It had been so good to talk to Bruce. She wished she could have talked longer. Wished she could share her excitement with Eric.
Barbara walked along the edge of her backyard flower gardens. They sat unattended, dwindling from lack of care. Her plan had been to fill them with perennials when they bought the home but as the truth of Eric’s sermons hit home, she felt there was little reason to plant tulips, hydrangeas and columbine – after all, she’d likely not even be here to enjoy it. That was four years ago already. “Humph… how stupid.” Her voice was soft, barely a whisper, “Imagine how nice they would be if I’d planted them when we moved here.”
Several more years went by. Eric continued to preach doom and gloom, Bruce snuck calls in on occasion, David got sent to Iraq and Barbara prayed daily for his safety, Bruce’s salvation…and the Rapture.
It was early February the day the news came. Barbara was home alone when she heard the knock at the door. They stood there, solemn, hats in hand. Barbara screamed in horror and tried to shut the door. Tried to shut out the world. Tried to shut out the words no mother ever wants to hear.
Collapsing under the weight of the crushing grief, Barbara cried out with a pain she had never known before. No! It couldn’t be! It couldn’t be! Not him! Not her David!
The uniformed men did their best to console her until Eric returned home. The rest of the night was spent in separate rooms, with only her muffled sobs breaking the silence.
Bruce came to the funeral. Eric ignored him. Barbara clung to him. He was thin. Too thin. Barbara begged him to stay but the tension was too great. He hugged her one last time as they stood among the gravestones and then, without a word to his father, Bruce turned and walked away.
Only a month had passed before Bruce called her. “Mom. I’m in town. We need to talk.” Barbara’s heart froze. She couldn’t take anymore bad news, but try as she might, she couldn’t shake the bad feeling in her gut. It was worse than any fear she’d felt before. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
Bruce was sitting near a window at the local coffee shop. When Barbara walked in, he smiled at her and motioned for her to follow him to a back corner booth. Barbara smiled at him, “How are you, son? I’ve missed you!” Bruce’s smile was thin. Forced. He sat there for a moment as though deciding what to say.
“This isn’t easy for me to tell you, mom.”
“What? What is it, Bruce?” Her voice held desperate fear and she knew she was attracting the attention of those around her.
“Mom…shhh...” Bruce looked around and then suddenly stood to his feet. “Come on, let’s go for a walk.” Once outside, he rushed her around the corner and towards a small park near the elementary school.
“Bruce, tell me! You’re sick, aren’t you?”
Bruce nodded, “I am, Mama. It’s bad. I…I have AIDS. I’ve had it for a long time. The doctors have done a lot for me over the years, but it’s… it’s bad, Mama. It’s real bad.”
The sobs that found their way to the surface were low and guttural. They came from the very core of her hopeless spirit. Caring little for her surroundings, she fell into his arms and once again cried the cries of a broken heart. “Noooo…nooooo!” she shouted over and over again. “Not my sons! You can’t take both my sons!”
Barbara stumbled through the next eighteen months taking Bruce to his doctor appointments during the day, grieving David’s death late into the night and dreading Eric’s sermons on the weekends.
“Many will be deceived in the last days!” he shouted out one Sunday. “If you think it’s bad now – just wait! It’s only going to get worse!”
Barbara wanted to scream at him to stop. To just shut up for once! She needed something to encourage her. Something to give her joy! If God was a God of love, why had He placed her on this miserable earth only to live in a loveless marriage, bury her sons and dread the future? Was this all there was to being a Christian?
Oh, if only Jesus would come back and rescue them all from the endless pain!
By Tuesday afternoon of that week, Barbara was planning a second funeral. A late summer cold had taken its toll on Bruce’s frail body. Rushing to the hospital, Barbara held his hand as her precious son closed his eyes for the last time.
Eric expected to preach the funeral service but, this time, Barbara put her foot down. “You despised my son in life. I’ll not allow you to condemn him publicly in his death!”
Something changed in Eric’s eyes and she knew she’d crossed the line. They made it through the well-meaning condolences and solemn funeral service with few words. When the door closed behind the last visitors in their home, Eric went to the basement and brought up two suitcases.
She heard him packing late into the night.
How had it come to this? They’d just celebrated their thirty-seventh anniversary! They’d served God together. They’d done their best to raise their sons in a Christian home! Was this the way He planned to repay them for all they’d done?
Sinking deeper into the covers of the bed she once shared with Eric, Barbara cried herself to sleep.
Hopelessness – it consumes the soul of so many Christians today…and it clings tightly to the Orphan Spirit.
Knowing only loneliness and despair, the Orphan Spirit finds little reason to hope. They have experienced only poverty, abandonment and insecurity their whole life and they doubt it will ever change.
A friend of ours traveled to Haiti soon after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Joel’s compassion for the people, and their desperate situation, was evident. The photos he took helped prove his point that these were a people in need of hope.
One picture in particular so struck me that I asked for a copy of it - a copy that I hung by my desk and look at often. It’s a picture of a young Haitian boy sitting on a rooftop, staring over the despair below. Joel told us that the boy never smiled – though Joel tried often to change that.
What was his story, I wondered? Where was his family? Missing? Dead? What had his life been like before January 12, 2010?
What were his thoughts, as he’d sit there each day, saying nothing… only staring at devastation?
When I consider the Hopeless Spirit of the Orphan, this is the picture I get. One who is left motionless by the tragedies of their past and sees nothing worth anticipating in the future.
Though taken into the Kingdom, the Orphan Spirit struggles to shed that blanket of hopelessness. The sorrow, brokenness and despair has been a part of who they are for so long, they don’t know how to feel hope again. Or perhaps, they are afraid to feel hope again. After all, they lost everything before, what if it happens again? The only hope they know is to beg Jesus to Rapture His church.
The sad truth is, the Western Church is so accustomed to an escapism mentality that many see little reason to invest into future generations. Example? Children’s ministry – find me a church that is turning people away from volunteering in children’s ministry due to an overabundance of workers and I’ll show you a church that is hope-filled. Once the body of Christ catches the vision of who our children are in the Kingdom, we won’t be able to shake people away with a stick.
Barbara’s gardening habits may seem silly to some but it reflects the hearts of so many within the Kingdom today.
The world is falling apart.
It’s all gonna burn anyway.
What’s the point?
But what are we leaving for our children and our children’s children if we don’t invest in their future? We cannot afford to live with an escapism mentality or we will have nothing to give to the next generation.
The Spirit of Hopelessness is not of God. He saw us, in our hopeless condition, and chose to take us off that rooftop overlooking despair. He chose to give us a future. He chose to give us a reason to hope.
But He didn’t bring us in and leave us destitute and unprotected at the door. No, our Abba gave us access to all that He has. In fact, He even tells us in Romans 8 that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us – and that Spirit brings us reasons to hope as well!
Satan has convinced us that we are on the defense, that he has more power than the sons and daughters of God – but he’s wrong. The death of Jesus changed everything in that He now holds all power and authority – and He gives us access to it as well!
Jesus, Himself, tells us in Matthew 28 the most beautiful words for the hopeless Christian. He says, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on Earth.” NASB
Did you catch that? All…all authority!
How much authority?
Webster’s dictionary defines the word “all” this way - the whole, entire, total amount, quantity, or extent of. So if “all” is the sum total of how much authority Jesus has in Heaven and on Earth, then how much authority does that leave Satan to possess in Heaven and on Earth?
He has none. He has only one thing– his mouth. And he uses it with no restraint. First, he uses his mouth to deceive the child of God. He even uses Scripture to do so – remember when he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness?
Second, Satan tries to fill our minds with doubt – “did God really say?” “Is God able to be trusted?”
Satan is amazing at discouraging people. He looks at the difficulties in our lives and keeps them shoved up in our face so that we are unable to see beyond the bleh in order to see the goodness of God.
The devil diverts the child of God as well. He seeks to pull our attention away from the gifts God is giving us and attempts to make other things appear more inviting. How many times people find themselves in an affair – thinking nothing could compare to a love like this – when ultimately, it only leads to a lifetime of heartache and regret.
Defeat is another of Satan’s tactics. Once we fall for his attempts to deceive, discourage or divert us, the enemy is sure to be there to rub it in our face, letting us know what a complete failure we are.
And finally, the Devil delays us. He keeps us so busy with seemingly important tasks in order to keep us from what God really has in mind for us. Oftentimes, those tasks are good things, but are they things of God? Or simply busy work brought to us by Satan himself?
Why are we so afraid of the devil? Have you ever stopped to consider what might happen in your life if you gave as much credit to the power of God as you do to the devil?
What would happen if we as Believers took on a new mentality? What if, instead of fearing Satan’s next move, we start living in such a way that Satan fears our next move? What if we stopped living as an orphan – dependent only on our own resources and instead rely on all that our Father has for us?
Truth is, the devil will only have as much power in your life as what you give him access to. He loves to come and tell you that you’re not enough… too weak… too imperfect…too whatever. He’s hoping his badgering will convince God’s sons and daughters to open the door of their minds and let him have free reign with their brain…and often it works.
The Hopeless Spirit has it backwards. We are not defenseless, hopeless, powerless, feeble Christians! Acts 1:8 tell the words of Jesus when He promises that we will “receive power after the Holy Ghost has come up on you.” What does it look like to live with power? With authority? The orphan has never experienced this phenomenon and the idea is foreign to him.
“But the devil is roaming to and fro throughout the earth! Many will be deceived. It’s only going to get worse!” you say. “Just look at Barbara’s life! Could it have gotten any worse?”
Barbara did live a tough life, but it wouldn’t have had to be hopeless. I know this because I saw a similar life lived out through the life of my Grandma Miller.
Grandma knew tragedy. She’d lost her firstborn son, Marvin, in a tractor accident when he was nine. Her birthday that year was spent watching her son’s casket being lowered into the ground.
Years passed, and her heart was broken yet again when another son, my uncle Sheldon, admitted he was gay…and HIV positive. How is a conservative-minded pastor’s wife in the 80’s supposed to deal with this kind of news? The family (and there are lots…and lots of us) had to each choose their individual reaction to Sheldon’s news.
Some were sad.
Some were mad.
Some ignored him.
Some were ashamed of him.
Being just a kid myself, my personal response to my uncle was based on what I saw the rest of the family modeling. Feeling much confusion, I decided to ignore him and pretend he didn’t exist…which wasn’t hard since he lived across the country.
For years, I kept his existence a secret among my friends – after all, no one else had a gay uncle and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with him. I watched from a distance as he was dishonorably discharged from the Marines, tsk tsking over the choices he had made.
When fellow believers eventually learned my family secret (after all, how does one keep such fantastic gossip under wraps forever and ever amen?), they were intrigued. Many wanted to see him –no, not meet him – just see him. After all, what does a gay uncle look like?
The words spoken were unkind. His life, mocked. His existence, ignored. Yet through all of Sheldon’s life, I watched my deeply religious Grandma choose something completely contrary to what those around her suggested…or even approved of – she chose love.
Our family Thanksgiving meals were shared with both Sheldon and his partner. Both men were treated with love, dignity and respect. Grandma modeled for us all what it looks like to love someone – whether you agree with their life choices or not.
Grandma had lost one son to death. She knew the pain of separation – and I saw her combat the very thing that Satan was trying to use to remove another son from her life by simply choosing love.
Had she succumbed to her feelings on the matter, she would have affected not only Sheldon’s life, but the lives of her ten remaining children, dozens of grandchildren and the generations following them. Why? Because we saw in Grandma an unwillingness to cave to hopelessness.
Did she agree with Sheldon’s choices? No. But she looked beyond that and saw the man inside. The man who deserved just as much love as the next. The man who had been cast away by society, rejected by many and accused by the masses.
Religion told her to join them... but Jesus called her to love him.
Grandma’s choices changed me. And I was able to put aside my pious condemnation towards my uncle before his death.
The Orphan Spirit struggles to see beyond the brokenness around them. Sons and daughters see the brokenness, yes, but they know their Father God is one who takes brokenness and restores it to something beautiful. Knowing this, they love unconditionally and invite those without hope to come to Jesus.
Consider this – what does condemning “sinners” benefit the child of God?
Suppose my Grandma had rejected her son…pushed him away…told him to change or he couldn’t be a part of the family? Would he have changed his lifestyle?
No. Probably not.
And even if that approach had worked – suppose he would have changed his way of life to fit our preferences over his own – would changing his actions have changed his heart?
Again – probably not.
Here’s my point – as a society, we look to the laws of the land as our definition of morality – and I won’t deny that it has its place…but the laws of the land don’t change people’s hearts. If that were the case, our prisons would be empty! In the same way, the church can try to force their “laws” on people but that alone will never change hearts. It just won’t.
Only the love and acceptance of the Father’s heart towards the broken and hurting can bring change. To approach our culture the way Eric did – with pious condemnation, will never work. It is only a seedbed for hopelessness and people are sick of it. There is a world out there searching for a reason to get up in the morning. They’re searching for a reason to dream again! The Kingdom offers that!
Acts 2 says, “in the last days… I (God) will pour out My Spirit on every kind of people…
Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams.”
People without hope have no vision – they have nothing to dream about. To live in hopelessness is not God’s plan. My personal prayer has become that Abba Father would allow me the privilege of living life the way He envisioned for His people. I want full access to all the He originally planned. I don’t want the lies of the devil, the opinions of people or the distractions of media to keep me from experiencing what it’s like to live with the hope God intended for me from the beginning.
I want all the peace He has allotted for me.
I want to enjoy all the love He wants to plant in my heart for others.
I want to experience the courage He budgeted out for me.
I want to possess all the power He’d like to give me.
I want the faith He wants me to have.
My greatest curiosity wrapped up in holy fear and wonder is if I’ll be able to look back over my life one day and see all that I missed because of hopelessness, doubt and fear.
What about you?
Are you like Joel’s little Haitian buddy? Sitting on the balcony of desolation – surveying all that is lost
and unable to envision a better day?
and unable to envision a better day?
That’s not Kingdom living. The Spirit of Hopelessness can be broken. You are a child of God – it’s time to leave your post on the roof and go out into the ruined cities and be a catalyst of hope for those bound in despair.
"All the King's Orphans" offers a deeper look at the identity crisis of the American Church. After years of research, Carpenter invites the reader to identify the Orphan Spirit in their own life and discover the freedom of living with the mentality of a child of God.
Amazon readers are heralding this book as one to consider for Bible Study groups as well as labeling it “an easy read with life-changing truths”.
Lynette Carpenter is available for interviews and appearances. For booking presentations, media appearances, interviews, and/or book-signings contact firstname.lastname@example.org.