FIVE PRINCIPLES OF HOPE
The Holiday season is upon us. Life can be harder at this time of year, but life can be hard anytime we are missing loved ones, feeling alone, or helpless. Memories crowd our thoughts and we can be lonely in a crowd. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little hope for everyday living. But what is hope?
According to Miriam Webster’s Dictionary hope is “The anticipation that a situation will have a desired outcome. Holman Bible Dictionary describes hope as the “Trustful expectation, particularly with reference to fulfillment of God’s promises.” Holman defines Christian hope as “confidence of what God has done for us in the past, guarantees what God will do for us in the future.”
My goal today is to encourage and inspire you to be hopeful as we look at principles of hope that effect our life all year.
PRINCIPLE ONE: Hope is Necessary to Survive
We all need hope, and we hope for all sorts of things. We hope it won’t rain; we hope it will rain because it’s been dry; we hope we remember to lock the door when we leave home. Even now, we are all hoping. I’m hoping I won’t bore you and you hope I’m not boring. Without hope we are exhausted, depressed, desperate, and unable to function. We become self-centered, and out of control. That’s when bullies, thieves, gangs, and addictive behavior are born. Yes, hope is necessary to survive and to thrive.
I think of John W. Schlatter’s story of a young man who after school cleaned out his locker and carried all his stuff home. On the way home, he dropped everything. Another student walking stopped to help him pick up books and scattered papers. They became friends, and years later the young man told his new friend he emptied his locker that day so no one else would have to do it. He had planned to go home and commit suicide, but when his new friend stopped to help him, he changed his mind. That single act of kindness had given him hope. He realized someone cared. (Chicken Soup for the Soul 1993)
Think of the effect that a single act of kindness can have on someone’s life. Strive to be the one giving hope to another and you will find it yourself.
PRINCIPLE TWO: Hope is Obtainable in All Situations
Sometimes hope is found in the smallest of things. Maybe you witness an act of kindness or receive one like our young man in the Chicken Soup story. Maybe it’s a song on the radio & you finally get its message of hope. Sometimes we find hope in bigger things like an answered prayer to an impossible situation. God hears all our prayers, even prayer over a seemingly insignificant thing. Once, as a teen, I had a wart on the side of my big toe. Did God care about such a little thing? It was bothersome, embarrassing, and painful when I wore dress shoes. My mother and my Aunt Grace prayed for it to go away. I doubted it would. But, within the week, that wart dried up and crumbled away. On its own? No, I don’t think so. I believe it was an answer to prayer, my own little miracle. But whether our problems are large or small, the answer to prayer is always a big gift when it is received with an accepting heart. Pray and trust God is listening.
PRINCIPLE THREE: Hope is Susceptible to being stolen—Guard it.
Throughout history, in POW camps, prisoners are told no one cares, they were forgotten, no rescue will come. Earlier I said hope is Necessary because without hope we are exhausted, depressed, desperate, and unable to function. We see how people can become self-absorbed. They give up, submit or become out of control, thinking, “What do I have to lose?” Like we said before, bullies, thieves, gangs, and addictive behavior are born. We can lose hope in a variety of ways due to our negative thinking; receiving bad news like terminal illness and death.
I’m sure some of you have experienced a loss of hope. Can you name a time you felt hopeless? Perhaps you feel hopeless now. Don’t despair. You will get through this. Seek help if you need it, and remember if you look hard enough you will find hope. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
PRINCIPLE FOUR: Hope is Sustainable
So, we pray and wait, hoping for the results we want. But sometimes the outcome is not what we would choose. Though the outcome is not what we hoped for, we can rest assured it will result in what is best for us. God gives us the hope we need, not just for the moment, but to sustain us through future times we aren’t even aware of yet. I’ve shared the story of my unreasonable fear in the last blog. I didn’t want to face my fear, but I realized fear is the opposite of faith. Had I not faced my fear and realized God would be there for me, I would have been devastated later when more fearful times came in my life. We learn from experience that God is faithful. That He is dependable.
PRINCIPLE FIVE: Hope is Shareable
People run out of juice and need refilled. They are touched by little things. When you see someone who is obviously upset, just having eye contact with them when you really just want to slip away into the crowd. Showing interest and compassion when someone needs a listening ear. It may mean praying with them—being willing to step out of your box. Small acts of kindness, like offering help when you see a need (even when you don’t want to), give us hope that there is still good in the world.
Hope is made real through faith and having faith is the evidence of things we can’t yet see, but still hope and pray for. Hope with the attitude that even if results are not what we hoped, we can be assured they are for our best. We can trust God’s plan is more important than any circumstance we will ever face. As promised in Romans 8:28 “All things work together for Good to those who love him and are called according to His purposes” That verse inspires confidence that no matter what happens to us, God can fix it.
What about people who live in your local area? What might they be hoping for? How about your church? What do they hope for? Do you know of any situations of despair where people need hope? (injustice, poverty, abuse, loneliness, unemployment?)
I want to challenge you to spread hope.
- Hold yourself accountable
- Be intentional, watch for opportunities
- Think of a simple comment you might make
You will find that as you spread hope, your own well of hope is filled. What about you? Has your hope been stolen? What do you hope for?
Remember, where ever you are, you are at the right place when you visit my website and read my blog. Come on back and share a slice of life with me.