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When going through tough times for any length of time, we find ourselves feeling disheartened and despondent, unable to think of ways to constructively move forward. Remaining in that state, however, only intensifies that sense of hopelessness.
The cure: put your focus on hope.
Here is a piece I wrote in 2012. I think it is relevant today.
Hope! It is a gift I cannot refuse.
Belief. It is the assumption that God catches us when reality doesn’t match our expectations and we begin to fall.
We may not be aware of being caught and held safely because the terror of falling is too great. But regardless of how we feel, God is there, like the parachute keeping a skydiver from plummeting to earth.
A skydiver has learned to turn fear of falling into a heady joy of floating before opening the chute. When reality has dashed my dreams, I need to turn my fear of falling into floating with the parachute ready to open and set me safely down on the ground when the time is right.
Throughout scripture, we read stories of God gracing His people with faith, hope and trust. Within science we know that the thoughts we dwell on have an impact on us mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Hope changes the chemistry in the body.
Hope says there is the possibility of something good happening. It is not only a belief, but a feeling that “something desirable” can happen.
Without hope, we give up or find ourselves repeating the forlorn words made popular in a song of the 60’s, “Is this all there is?”
When encouraged, we gain confidence. Within confidence, we find courage.
With encouragement, we become motivated to look for solutions to tough problems and difficult life situations.
When feeling helpless and hopeless, our energy is drained, and depression settles into every cell and fiber of our body rendering us almost comatose. Hope changes that in an instant. Hope allows us to focus on what we can do rather than what we cannot do.
When we feel hopeful, we expect a different outcome. We don’t worry about whether the earth will keep rotating, or whether the sun will come up in the morning or go down at night. When the sun is hidden in the clouds, we know it still exists and take for granted that it is there.
Hope played out in our lives expects that tomorrow has the possibility to be brighter than today, that our pain will recede, and that we can experience joy again. Hope says that when the world is all dark and we think we have been locked in a prison of despair, that, instead, we can place our expectation on a God we can call upon in our time of need and trouble. We can go to Him anytime and anywhere.
When our expectation is placed on God, we believe that He exists, that He loves us, and that He will never leave or desert us. He will give us the strength to endure. Hope believes God’s word that tells us He cares about us personally, and that His love is so great, He is willing to die for us. In fact, He did – on the cross at Easter and rose again.
Hope doesn’t quit
When we are exhausted and think we can’t do anything more, we hear God whispering to us, “I am there with you. Try again – one more time.” We feel His arms carry us. We hear his promises in our ear and feel His strength flow into us. He intervenes in our lives.
Hope is surrender
Hope relies on something greater than ourselves. When we surrender to the knowledge that we do not know it all, will never know it all and we need God to survive, we begin to experience hope. We recognize that we are not sufficient unto ourselves.
In that surrender, we are asked to let go and allow. The focus is no longer making something happen but surrendering to what is happening and adjusting our responses. In that surrender, we find peace in acceptance. Hope then reveals itself in looking for and finding blessings in all things.
The Easter story is that revealing of hope for us that there is life after death – a new life that goes beyond the grave; a hope of salvation made possible by God. Within our tragedies lies new hope and new life as well.
We need validation for the turmoil of thoughts and emotions we experience. But we also need the tools necessary to create a new beginning that is both satisfying and meaningful. My new book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, offers those tools to help work through the problems you might be facing.