3 Steps for Recovering Hope
These are times of lost hope, lost peace, and lost joy. It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a path and promise for recovering what can seem fleeting and failing. With these 3 steps, you will find hope again.
Consider the impact your emotions have on your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. We comfort ourselves by justifying our feelings. If you are angry, you may think of all the reasons that you should be angry. It is easy to believe that these are the reasons you ARE angry. Think of times when you are someone you knew blew up over one topic only to have to later admit that the anger was over something entirely different. We need to recognize our emotions, but not feed into them with unrelated circumstances. Recognize the feeling and the reaction your body is having to that emotion. Remember that emotions are neither good nor bad, they simply are. Deal with the emotion of the moment and resist mentally dredging up every reason you might “deserve” to be angry, ashamed, embarrassed, frustrated, or discouraged. Learn to see your emotions for what they are with allowing them to make you see your entire life through their influence.
Be angry, and do not sin.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.
The scripture encourages us to think things through. Typically, though, we waste that time meditating on ourselves and a life full of reasons for negative emotions. Take the power from the emotion. Recognize it. If there is an immediate cause, we can recognize that, too, but emotions do not always have logical causes. Then meditate on God, His nature, and His love for you. Mediate on His word. Be still.
End Result: the loss of hope stems less from what you are facing than what you fear is coming. By recognizing the emotional moment, you will stop the cycle that burdens your mind with countless past hardships and future fears. It allows you to simply deal with the emotion of the moment and be ready to move on when it passes.
When it comes to dealing with people, this is vital. You grew up in a particular family culture. In that culture, certain taboos were instilled. We see this all the time as people react to “pet peeves” or things “people just don’t do”. You have heard people murmur, “I would never…” There is plenty they would and have done, but that particular area is off limits. They might not realize why they feel that way, but there is a deep gut reaction in this particular area.
We all have these taboos. You have them. If you are married, your spouse has them. The trouble is, your cultural taboos and your spouse’s taboos will be different. Every now and then, you bump into these sensitive areas and suddenly, that loving, considerate human being seems like an alien creature, even a monster. After all, “normal people just don’t do that” and “everyone understand that”.
Well, no. They don’t. This is a cultural issue, and very few people in the world had the same exactly influences you did growing up. Their taboos will be different, and chances are, you’re stepping all over them. We need to recognize where these peeves come from, so that we can master them instead of them master us. Sometimes, these ideas turn something otherwise amoral into a sin, and, sometimes, they turn a sin into pit of hell itself.
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
We are all sinners. We have all strayed. It is only through the faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved. Chances are, if we look at our biases as a cultural influence, the sins of our spouses, children, coworkers, and friends are not so much worse than our own sins. Living peaceably with one another is so much easier when we realize that.
End Result: When we can’t put our differences with others in perspective, we can lose hope for an ongoing, healthy relationship. Understanding where these ideas come from will help us gain that perspective and realize that these are areas where people can and do differ. It doesn’t justify a sin, but it does prevent us from hating the speck in our brother’s eye when we ignore the log in our own.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
That word “deferred” means to put off until a later time; postpone. We see many examples of hope differed in the Bible. After listing the great example of the faith in Hebrews 11, the writer then goes on to say:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Sometimes we have to realize that our timing is not the same as God’s and the ultimate focus for our hope is often not where it should be. It is easier to realign our thinking and our hearts when we have first handled points one and two. When we are not carried away by our emotions or by difference with other people, it becomes easier to deal with God and His frequent insistence to do things His way instead of ours.
A few things to remember as you wrestle with God over your current trouble:
- God does not respond to emotional blackmail, at least not in the ways we imagine. Running away. Quitting. The silent treatment. People use these tricks with men and try them with God, as if God were going to come running, tears streaming down His face, admitting He was wrong. As children of God, I suppose we all get the urge to be petulant brats from time to time. It doesn’t work, and it’s not healthy. Deal with God honestly,
- God has a better grasp of the details than you do. If you’ve forgotten this, it might help to read Job chapter 40.
- God loves people more than you do. That’s particularly hard to remember in the midst of pain. It’s still true. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He loved us when we hated Him.
End Result: Often, hopelessness is a result of placing our hope in the wrong place to begin with. In working through the issue with God, He can remind us where our hope really needs to be.
If you would like to read more, check out the preview chapter for Recovering Joy. It’s a work in progress, so give me in feedback you have. God bless.
Wade Ogletree has his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from USC and his Master’s in Human Services from Capella University. He is active with the Calvary Chapel fellowship of churches where he is ordained and served previously on the staff of two churches. He currently runs Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services in Jackson County, Mississippi for the local community mental health provider.
He also trains service providers within his company on how to treat others with dignity and respect and is a certified IDD therapist within the Mississippi mental health system.
Wade currently lives on the Mississippi gulf coast with his wife and daughter. March 7, 2014 will be their 20th wedding anniversary.