Study Guide: Passionless Hope

Monday May 9, 2016 | Jessica Kelley

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

This message examines Christian hope and how we are called to prophetically speak hope into seemingly hopeless situations. While hope is vital, certain understandings of God’s character and role in radical suffering can leave victims of trauma with passionless hope. But when our picture of God is rooted solidly in the revelation of Jesus, it is possible to have a passionate faith, regardless of the circumstances. *We have Jessica's book available for purchase; please email Jodi at if you're interested!

Extended Summary:

Jessica’s message begins by sharing a story that took place a few months after the death of her four-year-old son, Henry. Jessica had decided that she couldn’t walk past Henry’s clean, vacant bedroom anymore, so she and her husband decided to sell their house. While she cleaned their home one final time, she listened a podcast sermon about Ezekiel and the Valley of the Dry Bones. In that story, God takes the Prophet Ezekiel into a valley that is filled with dry bones and tells Ezekiel to prophesy breath, tendons, flesh, and skin over the bones. In other words, God calls the prophet to speak hope into the hopeless. Ezekiel obeys and the bones join together before his eyes and are covered with tendons, flesh, and skin. Ezekiel prophesies once more and the bodies fill with breath and rise to their feet. When the sermon that Jessica was listening to ended, she realized that she had finished cleaning her family’s home. Flashes of her life and memories of her little boy began to lap over her. She sank to the floor in her empty house, too heart-broken to leave… until she followed Ezekiel’s example. Prophetically speaking hope into that seemingly hopeless situation gave Jessica the courage to rise to her feet and move forward.

While hope is vital, so is passion. Jessica discusses how the blueprint worldview leaves broken hearts primed for passionless hope. The blueprint worldview is the idea that history is a working out of God’s meticulous divine blueprint, and that there is a specific, good reason behind everything that comes to pass. Yet this view requires Christians to embrace a picture of a God who causes or specifically allows their suffering – such as the death of their children – for a mysterious higher purpose. Jessica explains how the belief that God orchestrates specific horrors, ranging from individual tragedies to mass atrocities, renders God’s heart for humanity mysterious at best. Within this blueprint framework, many can find the hope to survive, but their faith can lack the passion to thrive.

Listeners are encouraged to critically examine the blueprint worldview and to move towards a passion-evoking picture of a God based on the person of Jesus. Doing so can enable us to fall deeper in love with God and to better trust his heart. The knowledge that God is doing everything possible to maximize good and minimize evil within the constraints of the world he created allows suffering Christians to embrace hope and passion for God. They are equipped with hope for tomorrow and a passion-evoking picture of God today.

Three Actions Steps:

  1. Play the word association game. Using the prompt “Jesus,” write a list of words that spring into your mind.
  2. Then do the same using the prompt “God.”
  3. Compare the lists. Does your picture of God’s character differ from the character you find in Jesus? Begin to wrestle with any discrepancies.

Jessica Kelley is an author, speaker, and survivor of child loss. You can read more about her testimony, the loss of her son, and the picture of God that continues to bring her hope and passion at

Reflection Questions:

  1. Consider situations around you that seem hopeless – such as broken relationships, feelings of despair, and systems of oppression. Then consider the hope we have in a God who loves to bring restoration. Where can you begin to prophetically speak hope?
  2. What is your understanding of God’s role in suffering? How does this belief inform your picture of God? Is your picture of God rooted solidly in the revelation of Jesus?
  3. Many believers question God’s role in suffering once tragedy strikes. Because of this, their crisis can be compounded by a crisis of faith. Others engage their questions before they experience radical suffering. Have you ever wrestled with God’s role in suffering? Why or why not?
  4. If you engage in this process now, who in your life can support you while you wrestle? Who can wrestle alongside you? How can you support each other as you question and wrestle?