This morning I took a long walk during which I thought about what Jesus said in John 6:44: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." His point was that those listening to him would not believe until God the Father drew them to himself. It takes a supernatural work of God to convince sinners of their sinfulness, lack of righteousness, and future judgment.
My first thought was to consider the work God did in the demoniac of Gadera. This man was hopelessly lost and oppressed by demons. In his case, his only hope was to meet Jesus and be freed from his situation. What could be worse? When I got home from my walk, the Lord brought to mind another hopeless case: Saul of Tarsus. Saul was so blinded by his religious background that he fought against the very God he was attempting to serve. Remember how he held the coats of those who stoned faithful Stephen? And yet, God called this man despite his anti-Christian bias. On the same day that he meant to imprison Christians from Damascus, God called him and he responded.
But even Ananias, one of God's faithful followers in Damascus, was skeptical. When the Lord told him to go to Saul, Ananias answered with an "Are you sure you want me to do that?" The Lord's answer was simple: "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel." God's choice over ruled Saul's hopeless situation. And the results from that effectual calling are evident not only in the book of Acts but in the inspired writings of Saul/Paul.
No matter how bad the situation, when God calls a sinful person to himself, he will come to him.