What is my strength, that I should hope?
And what is mine end, that I should prolong my life? (Job 5:19, KJV)
Hopelessness is a pretty awful place.
The Book of Job is a massive dialogue about the nature of pain and the sovereignty of God. In many ways, it confronts the questions that we still ask about the human experience.
Unfortunately, like all great works of art, Job is easily misunderstood. If you make the mistake of approaching this book as a theological treatise rather than as a dialogue, you will come to some crazy conclusions.
Read Job as a dialogue (I have now used that word three times) among people who cannot possibly understand what is happening. It is more akin to the Hindu parable of the six blind men describing an elephant than it is to any kind of theological statement. Each of the main characters, and most of the minor ones, comes to a different conclusion as to the nature of pain. None of them are correct.
Even when God himself comes to deal with the situation in the final chapters, he does not address the nature of Job’s pain – only the transcendence of God’s nature and choices.
Hopelessness often comes from a belief that I am 1) somehow in control of things that are not in my control and 2) the realization of my inadequacy to deal with these things. To be truthful, a follower of Jesus Christ should always live in a “hopeless” state in respect to his own abilities. The joy and hope we have is from the realization that whatever happens, we are following the One. Even in the pain of a sinful world, Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. We look to Him, which means we do not look to ourselves.