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When Hope Is Gone
by Rubel Shelly

    Mark Barton bludgeoned his wife and two children to death with a hammer. He then went on a shooting rampage in Atlanta that made him that city’s worst-ever mass murderer. Nine people were dead and thirteen wounded before he killed himself as police officers surrounded his vehicle and closed in to arrest him.

    Barton is reported to have lost $105,000 in the stock market between June 9 and July 27, and the people he shot were at day-trading brokerage firms. Yet it seems fairly clear that the motive behind all the carnage was much deeper than financial. Mark Barton — to use his own words — had been “dying” for a long time. He had become “so afraid, so terrified” and had “come to hate this life.”

    The most telling line in a letter found in his family’s living room is this: “I have come to have no hope.” With all hope gone, Barton was paranoid and thought the world was against him. The final line in his letter declared his intention “to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction” as he could before dying himself.

Human beings must have hope to survive.
    Human beings must have hope to survive. It is as necessary to the soul as air to the body. When hope vanishes, people do bizarre and destructive things. They abandon families, loot companies, open fire in public places, or commit suicide.

    Your brilliance, success, and money aren’t enough. Neither are good looks, new house, and luxury car. All of them can be lost in a moment. Even relationships with other human beings can’t ground your ability to cope with life. People have been known to abandon their friends and break promises to their mates and children.

    It’s like the kid playing left field in the first game of baseball season. Someone arriving late leaned across the fence and asked how the game was going. “Great!” the smiling player said. “We’re behind 17-0.”

    The concerned newcomer asked if the kid’s team was just going to give up and admit defeat. “We ain’t beat!” came the reply. “We haven’t been to bat yet.”

    No matter what is going on in your life today, God is still God. He is still on his throne. He is still sovereign over the vast universe he created and all its resources. So long as you keep faith with him, you aren’t beaten — and can’t be.

From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See http://www.faithmatters.com for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."

HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
© 1999 Rubel Shelly. Used by permission.