Oh, What A Difference Hope Makes!
Hope is fragile. When I have it, hope is wildly powerful and compelling. Without hope, despair and discouragement settle in.
Because I’m human, my hope swells and it shrinks. It’s rarely stagnant.
Ordinarily I’m a pretty hopeful gal, but recently, my hope took a hit. It was dark and ugly – a very unhappy moment. Like Peter, for that split second (or longer), I allowed my situation to block my view of Him leaving me feeling unbelievably disheartened. When several not-so-fun circumstances surfaced nearly simultaneously, I confess, I wanted to give up! No matter how hard I tried, it felt like everything was in vain.
When my eyes are locked on my circumstances, or my feelings, or my performance or ___________ (you fill in the blank), my hope wavers.
In my experience, the only reliable and steady source of hope is God! As long as my focus remains on Him, my hope is steady. Yet, in life, there are many looming distractions vying for my attention.
The enemy is clever. He knows that if he’s able to get my eyes off of Jesus, my hope will fade. He uses everything in his power to divert my focus away from God and onto the wild and raging storms all around me.
What storm or storms are you currently facing? A relationship gone south? Financial challenges? Health issues? Disappointments? Dashed dreams?
Trouble & Truth
Experiencing trouble shouldn’t surprise me. After all, Jesus warned us that there would be trouble, but don’t forget that He also promised us His peace!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
Jesus also warned us about the enemy’s tactics, that he’s an expert stealer of hope, but in that very same verse Jesus reminds us that He is the way to an abundant, aka, hope-filled life!
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 (NLT)
Scripture is brimming with examples of God’s faithfulness! He is just as faithful today as He was for Abraham, Noah, David, Daniel, and so many others!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)
Putting my confidence in anything other than God leads to discouragement, despair, and ultimately hopelessness. That’s why it’s essential that I keep my eyes fixed on God and my hope securely anchored in Him alone. And when I do that, there are a number of other happy benefits that follow like these:
- You will inherit the land – the promises of God (Psalm 37:9)
- God will exalt you (Psalm 37:34)
- Enjoy renewed strength (Isaiah 40:31)
- You won’t be disappointed (Isaiah 49:23)
- Live life in a bold way (2 Corinthians. 3:12)
True hope is the confident expectation in the One who has unlimited power and resources. God is the One who is for me. He is able to transform me and orchestrate situations in ways the yield results far beyond my imagination in my relationships, work, and more when I cooperate with Him.
When my hope dwindles, I know that my hope is misplaced.
Hope is choosing to see my present circumstances from God’s perspective. In order to do that, I must get to know God in such a way that I’m crystal clear about who He is, what His heart for me is, and what He is capable of.
Hope is relentlessly focusing on His faithfulness. Remembering that He keeps His promises, and that, while life might appear wild and out of control, He’s not a chaotic God. His ways drastically different from mine, yet so much more effective.
Have you ever had a staring contest with someone where you locked eyes until someone blinked? It’s quite difficult to stay focused like that without blinking. And as much as it is a physical challenged to remain gazing into the eyes of another, it is also a mental challenge.
The same is true when it comes to maintaining our focus on God – it’s a mental and spiritual challenge. Perhaps you’ve experienced these hope dashers…
I would not describe myself as impatient, however, God’s timing and mine are often quite different! He frequently takes much longer than I would like before allowing something to become a reality! That means I have to be in “hope mode” for a good long time!
You could say that waiting tests the strength of my hope.
It’s challenging to visualize God’s promises for me, especially when the reality of what I am experiencing right now seems far from that promise.
I’m quite good at spotting the problems, obstacles and difficulties. I want to know the step-by-step plan – but He rarely reveals that to me. Instead, He shares my next step and rarely more.
True faith believes that something is possible regardless of how impossible it looks or feels. Dwelling on my doubts only eats away at my hope.
When what I’m hoping for continues to feel a long way off, I’m tempted to get in there and help. My helping often looks like striving, but hope is about resting!
Acts 2:26 describes being hopeful as “pitching a tent in the land of hope.” In other words, hope is a place where you settle, relax, and dwell there. Does that sound like striving to you?
It’s true, I must do my part minus the striving, and trust that God will do His part.
Fear is a serious hope killer! When fear creeps in, my hope dies.
The fear that most frequently robs me of hope is my Fear Monster. My fear of not mattering. For you, it might be fear of rejection, incompetence, not measuring up, looking stupid – whatever your version is it dampens hope.
Hope and fear are like oil and water.
5. Preconceived Ideas
I know what God’s called me to do and who He’s called me to be, and my goals are connected to my purpose. In my great wisdom, I think I know the best strategy for accomplishing my goals and how that will look when I arrive.
With those preconceived notions in mind, I’m disappointed when they don’t pan out the way I imagined. That nibbles away at my hope. Yet, in my experience, God’s plan is infinitely better than mine and produces far greater results while at the same time bringing Him glory! The tighter I hold onto my ideas the more my hope unravels.
What “ideas” do you need to let go of?
Social media has the potential to be an incredible hope crusher if you let it! That’s why it’s essential for me to focus on being obedient and following God on my journey and to notice all the good that He is up to in my life and work.
The minute I begin comparing myself to someone else I’m in trouble. Either I feel prideful about how far I’ve come, or I feel disappointed in my progress. My journey and process is mine, and mine alone. Trying to measure myself against you is a hope stealer!
7. Curve Balls
There will be curve balls – unexpected events that pop up and take the wind out of my sails. It’s how I choose to regroup and respond to the curve balls that either depletes or enhances my hope – not the curve balls themselves.
Here are a few habits that enable me to be more hopeful and resilient:
- Connecting with God daily – that’s how I ensure that my focus is on Him.
- Engaging in community – I need other positive people in my life to keep me on track.
- Exercising regularly – it really helps boost my mood and enhance my perspective.
- Taking my thoughts captive – it’s my thinking that throws me off!
- Engaging in something I love doing every day – that energizes me!
- Journaling – getting my thoughts and feelings down in writing so I’m more aware of how I’m feeling.
- Staying the course – not giving up, but persisting even when it’s hard.
Whatever God has for you in your life and work, hope is a key ingredient! Minus hope, and you become stuck. Depression sets in. You are more tempted to isolate or give up. Then it’s very difficult to successfully reach your goals or walk in all that God has for you.
If you are in that hopeless place now, get help! Reach out to a trusted friend. See a counselor. Saturate your life in Scripture and Worship music. Move!
If you’d like to cultivate the habits that will lead to a more hopeful and resilient you, work with a coach!
How will you keep hope alive?