Hope is not something we naturally think about building. We can find or lose hope. Hope can be destroyed or recovered. But hope is usually built. And that is precisely the problem.
We believe hope is akin to treasure at the end of a rainbow, as if some mythical munchkin will say, “Fresh out of gold. How ’bout some hope instead?” Hope must be built if we intend to retain it in our lives.
Understanding What Hope Really Is
Part of the reason we expect hope to come like a winning lottery ticket is because we misunderstand what hope actually is. Hope in its purest form is a Christian concept. It is described best in Romans 5:5 –
Hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Hope is grounded in the love of God for us. We have the proof of God’s love in the person of the Holy Spirit within us. There are moments in our life when we understand afresh that the Creator of this complex and enormous universe loves little ol’ me and little ol’ you. These times should stir up hope within us.
When a Bible Verse Just Doesn’t Cut It
But there are days when this quiet confirmation of God’s advocacy for us is not enough. We feel like someone who was tricked by a leprechaun into taking fool’s gold, only to find ourselves with an empty black pot. We have pain that won’t end, a health condition that just won’t go away. In these moments, we want to cry out – O God, why have you forsaken me?
And this is why we must build hope. We must have a reservoir of hope during dry seasons. It is possible to develop habits in our lives that will give us strength when we are weary, so we can live another day.
Four Ways to Build Hope
Keep a journal, in a way that makes sense for you.
When the tough times pile up on each other, it’s easy to forget that God has ever shown Himself to be real. A journal stands as a monument of God’s faithfulness, and gives us courage to keep going. There are moment when we have known the love and presence of God, without a shadow of a doubt. But the dark seasons can wipe those memory away. We can battle this tendency with a journal.
When I say journal, I don’t necessarily mean a monogrammed notebook or a Moleskin. Anything you will use and not lose works just fine. It could be texts to yourself or videos. It might even be a series of screenshots and pictures. The details don’t matter, so long as you keep a record of God’s goodness somewhere.
Refuse the urge to isolate yourself.
Whoever said misery loves company hasn’t seen my sorrow. Perhaps it is because I am an introvert, but I do not want to share my misery with anyone. No, I want to curl up into the fetal position and wait for the bad days to end.
It’s only in community we find hope. I have written about this before here and here, so I won’t repeat myself in this article. There is great value in safe places and safe people, and we will need both to build hope.
Meditate on the truth of God’s goodness.
It is unfortunate meditation has become a word with nearly unbiblical connotations, because King David was one of the first to discuss it thousands of years ago. Meditation is nothing more than a deep focus upon a single concept – in this case the goodness of God.
If you are anything like me, chilling out with a book and thinking deeply about it sounds…well, it sounds boring. But reading one verse over and over again is not the only way to meditate. We can meditate in song. We can meditate in service. The details don’t matter, so long as we are able to focus on the good heart of God.
Create visual reminders of good times.
Maybe this means picture collages of family events. Perhaps for you putting calligraphy prints of Bible verses does the trick. It could even be that images of the Buddha bring joy to your heart. Whatever makes you happy, surround yourself with that.
I am not trying to say that a happy picture or some nifty words in a fancy font will remove the pain of a day with deep despair. But to the degree we can control our environment, we must do so.
We need more than magically delicious cereal to thrive in life, especially when there’s a chronic health condition involved. We need to store up hope.
How do you build a reservoir of hope in your life?
“It’s only in community we find hope.” Yes! I was reminded of this truth over the weekend. Part of me didn’t want to go to a church picnic because I’ve been feeling tired, frustrated, and worried about health stuff (again! it’s always something)…but I knew I needed to be among friends. And I saw how God showed up in the middle and pointed me back to hope. There were really good conversations and I captured a photo with a friend. I can look at that photo and smile, even with the ongoing mess. God is there! Thanks for sharing these other great tips, Chris. It’s encouraging to read.
Laura, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I am glad you chose community. I know how hard that can be some days. How wonderful you have a pic to remind you of the moment.