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Day 21

Once without Hope

by Kevin Deutsch

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. [Ephesians 2:12]

The harbor water that morning was thick and gray under an overcast sky. I was 13 years old and stood next to my brother at the back of the boat, surrounded by some family and some strangers, all gathered to scatter the ashes of my Dad.

We slowly motored out of the harbor into the drab day. “Look,” my mother said, “one of those sea gulls is following us; maybe it’s the spirit of your Dad.” It was an absurd thought, but I nodded vaguely, having no other comforting thoughts.

A generic eulogy was offered, but my Dad was an agnostic — what could really be said? The boat moved forward; ashes were scattered. A man threw a bouquet of flowers attached to a Styrofoam ring out onto the water. As he cast it out to sea, the wind flipped it over and it landed — flower side down — in the water behind the boat. Now, looking more like a floating toilet seat than anything else, I couldn’t help but look at my brother and smile.

That was my first smile in two weeks, and though I had a brief sense of relief, I felt a more permanent sense of dread; I would die one day, like my Dad. Perhaps I’d be an alcoholic like him, too. Even though it was punctuated by a handful of happy distractions here and there, my life was dominated by hopelessness, paralleled by my anger at a father who drank himself to death and a God who would let him.

But at the age of 25, something happened. A Christian friend lent me a novel, and nestled in the pages was a simple yet profound explanation of the Gospel: That I would remain hopeless forever if I continued rejecting God, and that God’s love was so great that Jesus would willingly go to the cross to take the punishment reserved for me. I prayed for the first time in twelve years, asking God, “Is this true?” And at once I experienced the tremendous joy and relief I had always sought! Above it all, there came a wonderful sense of hope as I stepped into communion with God, my true Father, eternal and perfect. As the next verse in Ephesians describes it:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. [Ephesians 2:13]

Question to Consider

What was my hope level like before I understood Christ’s salvation? What is it like now?


Lord, thank You for bridging the gap so that I don’t have to be separated from You. I need the hope offered me in Christ. I put my life entirely in Your hands!