How to Have Hope

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Like a dense fog, sometimes the clouds of discouragement can descend on us blocking out any glimmer of hope. Perhaps there have been times in your own life where you felt a sense of despair. How do you have hope when everything seems to be going wrong? Let’s look at a few ways to part the dark clouds.

Look Up instead of At. When we are going through a challenging time, circumstances loom large and are sometimes the only thing we can see. Certainly we must recognize our grief or pain, but one of the first steps toward seeing glimmers of hope is to change the direction of our focus. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Set your minds on things above.” When we look only at our circumstances, it is easy to become overwhelmed, but when we look above our circumstances, we remind ourselves that there is a God who loves us. He is bigger than our challenges. He is the God who sees, and He is not surprised by this situation. When we turn our eyes upward, it helps us gain a broader perspective.

Praise. While we are looking up, let’s take a moment to praise God for who He is and what He is able to do. Actively praising God changes us within and opens our hearts to the possibilities of what He can do. Open the Psalms or open a hymnal, or play some worship music or simply pray something like:

“Father, I adore you as the God who is able to do immeasurably more that I ask or imagine.”

“Father, I praise you that you are Sovereign and Powerful. You know all things and can do all things.”

“I exalt you my God, because You see the bigger picture and You know what is best.”

“Praise you that you walk through the darkest valley’s with me. I am not alone.”

Or as Jeremiah prayed from the pit of despair,

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
  Lamentations 3:19 – 24

Encouragement. One of the apostle Paul’s prayers for the early believers was, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” God is the God of hope, so let’s not hesitate to ask Him for hope, wisdom and guidance as we navigate rough waters. We can also pray that God sends a person into our life that can encourage us or walk along side of us through our dark moments.

James (the brother of Jesus) gave the persecuted church powerful and positive advice,  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. “

My friend, there is always hope. It may come in unexpected ways and look slightly different than how you thought it would look. Keep looking up and keep your heart open to what God wants to do in your life. I believe there is always hope, because I believe in a God of hope. I believe what the Bible tells us – that He is a redeeming God, and He will never leave or forsake those who trust in Him.

Photo by Łukasz Łada on Unsplash

 

True Positive: Day 14 – Laughter

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Laughter is good medicine! In the busyness of life, sometimes we forget to add a cheerful chuckle into our day. When you face a disappointment or make a mistake, yes you need to feel frustrated, but you can typically find the humor in the situation as well. If you look for the bright side of things, you will typically find it! Everyone needs a good guffaw now and then. Victor Hugo said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

Without a doubt, a good dose of humor levels some of the bumps in life and lightens the load of our day-to-day routine. When is the last time you had a good hearty laugh? Make the decision today that you will intentionally look for the delightful and funny side of the circumstances in your life. Be honest and realistic, but also allow yourself the freedom to smile and giggle. You will be surprised by the joy of walking on the sunny side of life.

 

Genuine laughing is the vent of the soul, the nostrils of the heart,

and it is just as necessary for health

and happiness as spring water is for a trout.

Josh Billings

 

 

A cheerful heart is good medicine,

But a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 NIV

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

True Positive: Day 12 – Work

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Our work can bring us joy, enrich our lives and even increase our positivity. Projects, chores or responsibilities give us a sense of accomplishment and commitment to a greater cause. Work often gives us the opportunity to serve others and to get our minds off of our own self-centered problems. We learn and grow as a person through hard work and perseverance. Certainly, we must be careful to keep a balance in life and not take on too many responsibilities which may increase stress. Additionally, we must avoid complaining and grumbling – which we will talk about in tomorrow’s post.

Let’s teach out kids that work is not something to be avoided, but rather something to be embraced. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ (Colossians 3:23,24).” Find joy in your work by thinking of your work as an opportunity to serve Christ. When you have down days (which we all do), ask God to give you a fresh viewpoint or a new perspective to help you see a greater purpose in your work.

Some of the happiest people I know are also some of the hardest working people I know. Don’t avoid work, embrace it and discover a new strength and confidence as a result.

True Positive: Day 11 – Purpose

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We were created on purpose and for a purpose. God has given each of us unique gifts, talents and abilities to use for His Kingdom purposes. When we recognize that God has an individual purpose for each one of us, it gives us a sense of joy and confidence. How do you discover that purpose? I believe the best way to walk in your purpose is to walk closely with your Creator.

As you get to know Him through reading His word and spending time in prayer, you begin to sense His direction and purpose in your life. I love how David wrote in Psalm 23, “He guides me down the right path, bringing honor to His name.” Paul encouraged the Ephesians with these words, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” How wonderful to know that God planned long ago for us to do good works for His glory!

Ask the Great Artist to lead you and guide you as He carries out His great purpose in and through you.

True Positive Day 9 – Courage

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How willing are you to step out of your comfort zone? Whether it is trying something new, facing a fear or reaching out to people you have never met before, it takes courage to step into the unknown. Let’s be honest, it is easy to remain safe and stick with what you have always known. Part of being a positive person means moving forward and exploring unchartered waters in our life.

Some of us need to move forward from discouragement or self-pity. Others need to step forward in faith to follow God’s calling. While others need to step across the street and meet their neighbors. Where do you need the courage to get moving? Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” Do not let the negative qualities of fear and worry hold you back from moving courageously in a positive direction.

May God give you the courage to step forward!