How to Keep Hope Alive
This past Sunday in church, the theme was hope. If we’ve ever needed hope, it’s now! As I prepared to lead worship last Sunday, I felt that there has been a shadow dimming the hope of many of us – including me. As I prayed that God would revive our hope, I asked what I can do to keep hope alive.
Thieves that Steal our Hope
What is stealing your hope right now? Before I turned my focus to hope last Sunday, I had been struggling with some specific thoughts for a few weeks that were creeping into the back of my mind, some tiny doubts about myself. I noticed my passion waning in some areas, and some subtle feelings of discouragement. The power of our thoughts is amazing – they can be like little thieves that slowly steal our hope. I started paying attention to those thoughts, and also the context that they were coming from, and I realized that there were a few simple things that could make a difference in the level of my hope.
The first thing I needed to evaluate was who or what I have been putting my hope in. As a Christian, I say that my hope is in God, but what does that look like? Do I expect God to show up in my life? How do I handle it when God isn’t showing up the way I expect? When life is painful, it can feel safer to stop expecting anything from God. But even when I say my hope is in God, sometimes it’s more in what I want God to do for me than trusting in who God is. Keeping hope alive may mean letting go of the box of my pre-conceived idea of what I think God is doing or is going to do. I want to bring my expectations honestly before God and allow them to be refined.
Look Who’s Talking
The second thing I did was look at the areas where I had started to feel discouraged. I didn’t talk myself out of my feelings – instead I identified the thoughts that were underneath. There are many ‘voices’ speaking into our lives every day, internally and externally. Which voices do I allow to speak into my life? The level of my hope is a reflection of who I’m listening to. In my case, it was an internal voice of self-doubt speaking. This is a familiar voice in my life, and I have learned that my best weapon against it is to find out what God says about me. Once I am solid in that, I have a choice as to whether I believe it or agree with it – even if it doesn’t feel true. I am still learning how to allow God’s voice to be louder than the other voices in my life.
I Need You
The third thing I noticed is my need for community. We aren’t meant to do life on our own. I have been much more isolated these last couple of years, and as a result I have become hyper-aware of the power of the interactions that I have with people. Just one interaction can elevate my perspective, lift my spirits and turn discouragement into hope. I realized that I need to be more intentional about creating opportunities to be around others who strengthen my hope. We need each other to keep hope alive.
Keep Hope Alive
Is your hope like a smouldering ember, or a raging fire? I pray that God will breathe on the embers and reignite your hope. And when you’re discouraged, reach out to someone you trust. By the grace of God, together we can keep hope alive.