I passed by a sign one day that said, “Fear is contagious, but hope is too.” That’s fitting for our current world situation. So many are afraid, and I know some are losing hope even though it seems we’re nearing the end of the quarantine.
But hope is needed in many areas of life. Pandemic or not, all of us have experienced those times when hope seemed to be distant and fading. Maybe you’re there now.
I know what it’s like to lose hope. I’ve experienced the grim diagnosis, the closed door, and the lost dream.
I also know fear. Fear and hopelessness mixed together color the world in hues of gray, and a colorless world nurtures despair. Despair chains us. It hisses through the fog, “Nothing will ever change.”
Don’t believe it.
Don’t believe Despair
The beauty of growing older is that with my gray hairs and earned wrinkles I’ve gained the power of perspective. I’ve learned to never say, “Well, this will never change.”
Time and time again God has changed things at just the right moment. When I felt doomed to a life of loneliness, emptiness, or pain, God sent a friend, a physical therapy exercise, or an opened window (after the door shut.)
My list could go on and on. I’m proof of God’s goodness and faithfulness, but I’m not alone. Many of you know what I mean. You’ve seen the unthinkable happen.
Three Things to Help Find Hope Again
Through the years, I’ve discovered three things that help me find hope again. You may not like them very much, but if you’re filled with anxiety or despair, I pray you will try.
- Surrender your plans and dreams to His.
- Trust His Goodness.
- Shift your Focus
Surrendering the plans and dreams is a nice way of saying, “Give up.” Stop trying so hard to make it happen. Trust God has a better plan or a better way.
You won’t be able to surrender the plan until you trust His goodness which my friends is simply a choice. It’s a prayer away.
Finally, shift your focus. Take your eyes off today and place them on eternity. I prayed for many years for “eternal perspective.” The problem is not God’s faithfulness, it’s what or who our hope is in. If the flame of hope is almost extinguished, change perspectives. Look beyond today. Paul wrote these words while in a prison cell:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
True Hope and False Hope
Our culture promises false hope all the time. Have you tried the diet that didn’t work or followed the self-help book whose methods didn’t deem success?
How do we know our Hope in God is true?
There are two things I base my hope in: The Word and Holy Spirit. Why? Because despite man’s attempts through the millenniums to destroy the Bible, it’s on the New York Times bestseller list, and every time I read it, I am filled. There is power, truth, and life in the Word. If it doesn’t do that for you, I hope you’ll stick around and do word studies with us. The Bible is alive.
After the death of Jesus, his followers went to their deaths proclaiming his resurrection. Nothing could persuade them differently. They had seen the resurrected Jesus, and they’d been filled with His Spirit. The Spirit changes things. His love changes us.
I have hope today, because my Redeemer lives in me.
Bite of Bread Bible Reading Plan
Join me this week as we ground our hope on the Word and shift our focus to His promises and eternal hope beyond our broken lives, dreams, and greatest fears. As we dig into these scriptures hope will lift our hearts and color our world with renewed hope. (Here’s a printable of this plan.)
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
Word Study and Prompt: The word “shame” can mean to be disappointed or delayed. And “treacherous without cause” means to offend, be deceitful, or hurt others… for no reason, empty, in vain, void. This verse promises that you will not be disappointed if your hope is in Jesus. Write down what this means to you to have this hope. Have you been disappointed before? Who disappointed you? List reasons why Jesus won’t disappoint you?
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Prompt: What does this Bite of Bread point to as essential to our hope? His Word is our hope. If you have verses you’ve clung to before, write them down. If you don’t, ask God to lead you to at least three.
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.
Prompt: Job felt God was causing his pain, but Satan was. The heavenly battle between God and Satan played out in Job’s life. But God knew Job would not lose his hope in Him, and God had good plans for him. That’s pretty cool. The second part of this verse teaches us that we can defend our ways to God; God can take it, but I don’t want us to miss what Job said after he met God. He cried, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. . . . Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:3b,6). What can we learn from this?
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Prompt: I know this truth too well. If your heart is sick, ask for a kiss of hope today, an open window. God knows you desperately need it, and he is faithful.
. . . but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
Prompt: I love this scripture. What happens when our hope is not in the answers, the healing, or the dream? According to this promise, when we hope in the Lord and not these other things, we will fly. Write down all the things you are hoping for right now. How the Lord is better than these things?
Lamentations 3: 25-26
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Prompt: Seeking the Lord is a phrase that means to worship him. This scripture promises he is good to those who hope in him. Worship stirs that hope. Worship him with lifted hands today.
You’re Not Alone
You’re not alone. We all struggle. If you need some faith encouragement and fellowship visit my Facebook Author page and “like” to follow and receive the daily scripture images and prompts in your FB feed. I will not be teaching this week on Facebook. Please visit my You Tube channel to watch past teachings if you could use some Bible study during the week. The Live Videos will resume next Wednesday.
Can I Pray for You?
Hold my hands. “Jesus, we need you. We’re desperate for your touch, your goodness, and love. You know that hope deferred makes the heart sick, so Lord I pray for my friends here who are at that point. Lord, they desperately need a glimmer of hope, a kiss from you. Open their eyes to see. I know you will. Amen.”
Join the conversation. How has God stirred your hope lately or how can I pray for you?
Digging Deep to fully live,