Lassoing a large life concept in a few hundred words may seem like a pointless assignment. Especially when that concept is both a noun and a verb. Hasn’t everything already been written about hope?
If I kept thinking like that, I’d never write another word.
Sometimes there is more to say. In a different way. In a personal way. In a specific way. As a reminder or a lesson.
This morning, God spoke to me about hope through the wisdom of Chuck Swindoll, one of my favorite authors and preachers.
Here’s an excerpt from his book, Come Before Winter and Share My Hope: “Take from us our wealth and we are hindered. Take our health and we are handicapped. Take our purpose and we are slowed, temporarily confused. But take away our hope and we are plunged into deepest darkness … stopped dead in our tracks, paralyzed.”
Having hope for the short-term is easy. Hoping for a salary increase, a new car, a date, a special trip, a fun surprise. But those are only fleeting dreams-come-true.
My real hope, my fulfilling hope, my treasure, my joy are in all that is to come for my life as a child of God.
As a follower of Jesus, here’s what I’ve learned about how to harness hope.
1. Believe in hope. When the storms of life have battered you, sometimes it’s difficult to believe in hope. That’s when it’s time to turn to God’s Word. God talks about hope at least 65 times in the New Testament alone. The root of hope is not in our dreams and plans. Lasting, enduring hope is rooted in God’s dreams and plans for us.
What proof of hope do you see in your own life? The longer we live, the more proof we have! I remember hoping for a deeper relationship with Jesus. I had always known him as part of the Trinity, God’s gift to humanity, the one who spoke the red-lettered words in the New Testament.
But I just kept missing a personal encounter with him. Maybe I was actually trying to avoid him because I was so stubbornly living my life the way I wanted to live it. When I was 40 years old, Colossians 2 and my then-boyfriend Gene to finally break through the wall I had constructed around my heart. I gave my entire life to Jesus, and I found that deeper relationship I’d been hoping for.
2. Value hope. Hopelessness has eclipsed hope in our world today. All you have to do is go to the TV or the internet to be bombarded by the enemy’s ammunition for destroying our hope. Some days, it’s hard to have hope. We have to seek it every day. When we seek hope, we will find it because hope is always there.
Where have you found hope lately? One place I find hope is in the believers of all ages whom God has placed around me in my life. When my hope falters, I turn to them for encouragement, prayer, reminders. I think about the widow who asked me to pray for her to find the reason she is still here, what God has for her to do next. When I see a hurting person reach out for help, a doubting person begin to trust God, a faithful person share his/her faith with others, my hope grows.
3. Live in hope. From the details of our daily lives to the headlines of our daily news, we can find countless reasons not to have hope. But where does that put our existence? We begin aimlessly slogging from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day. We lose sight of anything beyond our own comforts and challenges. When we let hope expand our reality, God has so much more to give, show, and teach us.
How do you live in hope? Sometimes it’s as simple as getting out of bed in the morning. That’s our first investment in the promise of a new day. One of my common morning prayers is: “Thank you, Lord, for another day to live and love and serve you. Help me to be your hands and feet today.” You never know what God has in store for you when you pray that prayer! But you are ready and willing to respond.
A few days ago, as I was working in my yard, I saw my neighbor getting out of a car and walking slowly to her door. She was just returning home from another stay in the hospital. I was searching my mind for the right thing to say, but all I said was: “It’s good to see you back home.” When she smiled at me, I felt the connection God is creating between us.
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But the tension between believing in hope and living in hope creates a battleground in me. The enemy keeps tempting me to invest my hope in the pleasures of this world. God keeps reminding me that he is my everlasting hope. For today, tomorrow, forever.
I’ll admit it. I’m afraid to transfer my hope from what I know and can see to the unknown and unseen. I’m afraid to give up the hopes of this life because I start feeling like this life is already over, even though I’m still living it.
Bottom line: My hope is in God. He is my rock and my fortress. Every other blessing and strength flow out of my hope in him. “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you” (Psalm 39:7).
Change my hope, Lord. Help me to hope for my bright eternity with you more than I hope for anything else. Use me to bring that hope to others, to share that hope with them.
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease” (Lamentations 3:21-22).
Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2017 by Laura Warfel