Making Hope Real in our Lives
One of the questions I'm most frequently asked following a seminar or speaking engagement on the subject of hope is, "How do I sustain hopefulness in my life when it seems things are going wrong all around me?"
When our son-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia, it felt like someone had kicked us in the gut, and then just kept on kicking. I felt fear, panic, and an almost suffocating sense of, "what if?" In other words, if you're telling me you're having trouble feeling hopeful about a situation, I've been there.
Fortunately, I was able to put into practice all the things I'd been teaching in seminars and presentations. And that's what we must do; we must put into practice what we know. It doesn't do any good to have lots of head knowledge if you can't incorporate it. In other words, we must first say, "No!" to the feelings of defeat that want to conquer us before we ever take the field of battle.
And battle isn't just a metaphor. We're in a spiritual and emotional battle -- not just a physical battle -- against the forces in our life that want to overwhelm us with despair. If our enemy can demoralize us, he's already won, because we'll quit trying. "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8.
James 4:7 says, "So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Resist! Don't give in to feelings of despair and defeat. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." God, I humble myself before you. I declare that the devil is a liar. He's telling me this situation is hopeless, but I reject that. I'm claiming that even though the situation is terrible, you will use it to my good and the good of all those who love the Lord. In Jesus' name, amen."
What else can we do?
1. Look for hope in God's Word. Read the Psalms and claim the promises of God contained in them. Psalm 37:5, 7. "Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you... Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes."
2. Immerse your life in conversation with your Heavenly Father. It's regrettable that so many of make prayer an afterthought until we're struck by some tragedy. God's Word says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Never stop praying."
3. Run TO God, not away from Him, when circumstances threaten to overwhelm you. Luke 11:8 says we're to pray with "shameless persistence." First Corinthians 1:8-9 says, "He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
4. Claim victory over the situation. When you're between a rock and a hard place, that's when God does His best work. Exodus 14:13b. "Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. First John 5:4. "For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith."
5. Use the unfortunate circumstances as key opportunities to share your faith. Psalm 68:34. "Tell everyone about God’s power. His majesty shines down on Israel; his strength is mighty in the heavens."
Circumstances aren't always good. We live on a broken, sinful, planet full of dysfunction. Our calling is to let God's light in our lives penetrate the darkness. Circumstances aren't always good, but God IS always good. Psalm 39:7. "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you." I claim that for you! Not that you'll have that hope someday, but today, today, today! In Jesus' name, amen.