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Friday, 10 March 2017 12:45

How to Keep Hope Alive In Seemingly Hopeless Times

Written by  Christy Holding, LPC
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How do we as Christians keep hope alive when things in our world, our communities, our families, and perhaps even our own lives are not looking very hopeful?  This is a question that many believers struggle with and I count myself among them.  It is worth thinking about and struggling with because a person without hope can quickly fall into feelings of resignation and despair.  The Bible says in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”  So in the above verse it seems to be referring back to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. The tree represents the life that God had originally intended us to have before sin came into the world.  It represents full life, life abundant, peace with God, perfect communion with Him...knowing that He has our best interests at heart. 

 

So what is hope?  Hope by definition isa feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. So what happens when “that” certain thing does not happen?  When it does not happen the way we want it to and we do not see that prayer answered in the way we so desire, it becomes easy to lose hope.  The first thing that comes to my mind is, what are we hoping for?  We are usually hoping for a certain thing to happen and it is certainly not wrong to hope for certain things.  The Bible tells us that we have not because we ask not.  But when we ask and our answer doesn’t come, how do we hold on to hope? 

 

Is it possible that my hope is more in the fulfillment of my desire than simply in God alone? That is a hard concept to hold on to because it is hard to separate what a person does from who they are.  I want to be able to hope in God even when things are not going in a way that I pray.  The best example of this in Scripture is when Jesus prayed in the garden in Matthew 26:39, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.  Yet I want your will, not mine.”  Jesus had hope in the fact that there would be another way to redeem  mankind than perhaps having to face such a cruel and gruesome death.  However, His greater HOPE was in knowing the character of His Father and being able to trust in Him. Jesus, the only son of God, did not get the answer that He asked for on that lonely night in Gethsemane. We know that was a difficult night for Jesus. I would imagine He might have dealt with some feelings of hopelessness. But because He knew His Father well, He was able to hope in Him...not in the outcome of the prayer, but in the character of the one to whom He prayed.   

 

Hope knows that sometimes things look awfully hard and hopeless, but even with circumstances looking bad hope believes it must be this way in order for God’s perfect will to be accomplished.  Brennan Manning said so beautifully, “Hope knows that if great trials are avoided, great deeds remain undone and the possibility of growth to greatness of soul is aborted.” So being able to believe that there is hope, hope in God, is hope in the fact that all things will one day be redeemed.

 

Hope is in things we cannot see, not the things we can see.  Romans 8:24 says, “Now hope that is seen is not hope at all, for who hopes for what is already seen.”  So hope is something in the future and we do not know how far into the future.  But again, more than hope is an outcome of a desire we might have, hope is in a Person. In fact, hope is a Person. God is hope. The Bible is chocked full of verses on hope.  In fact the Bible uses the word about 130 times. So hope is an important part of the Christian life and we are a people that need constant reminders about it. 

 

So how are we to manage feelings of hopelessness and despair?  Here are a few things that are helpful for me.  One, is to be honest with myself, God and at least one other person.  Secondly, gratitude seems to be closely related to hope.  Take a minute and look back over your life and see the things you have to be grateful for and that will give you some hope.  Thirdly, know that there are many things in the Christian life that are a mystery and that hope in the unseen is one of them.  We can enter into that mystery with a childlike heart asking Him to give us hope, not just for the desired outcome but, more than that, for a heart to hope in Him.

 

In closing, I pray this prayer for you…Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen!

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 10 March 2017 12:49
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