“You are hopeless.”

The words cut through me like a knife. I watched the child to whom they were addressed wince and withdraw inside a cold hard protective shell.

He had been assessed by his parent and found wanting. As he was, he was not enough. He was inadequate. I knew he would carry the poison of this message engraved in his being for the rest of his life.

If “hopeless” is the opposite of “hope,” then “hope” must be the source of life, because being deemed “hopeless” certainly brings death.

“Hopeless” has no place in the Christian lexicon.

“Hopeless” means there is no way life can be born in this situation. We have reached a dead end. There is no way through the impossible morass that is the reality of our life.

Christian faith proclaims boldly that there is no such thing as hopeless. Christian faith affirms a life that is stronger than death, a love that is greater than hate, a light that shines brighter than any darkness.

John the Gospel writer affirms a light that “shines in the darkness,” which no darkness can “overcome.” To have hope is not to believe that everything will turn out just as I had planned. Hope is holding the deep conviction that, no matter how things may turn out, there is that within me which is stronger and more real than anything I might fear.

How do I confront those dark realities that might appear hopeless?