How to Cultivate Relentless Hope
Disappointment visited me two weeks ago. She didn’t knock or ring the doorbell. Her arrival was rude and unannounced.
She came in like a thief: recklessly destroying the atmosphere of my heart and taking a few of the things I hold most dear. She took my peace of mind, my hope, and my gratitude for this life I’m living.
It happened quickly.
A phone call.
A dial tone.
Then it was over.
I had little time to breathe let alone prepare. Had I known she was coming I could have amped up the security around my heart, did a couple of emotional push-ups, or maybe even set up a barricade or two but there was no time. I was caught off guard.
Her parting gift was brokenness and sorrow. I found myself wading in a river of melancholy, unable to grab the rope hope threw down to me. I was discouraged.
I talked to a few friends. Pried out to God – which is a combination of praying and crying at once. But whatever I did wasn’t enough to lift my countenance, restore my joy, and make me grateful in spite of my circumstances.
Even though I was surrounded by undeniable and abundant blessings I couldn’t see them. Discouragement has a way of blinding you: blurring your vision and preventing you from seeing life through a balanced lens. Not only are you blinded to the good in your life you are simultaneously rendered sightless when it comes to the plights of others.
Have you ever been there?
Are you there now?
Given the year we’ve had, I’m assuming the answer to one or both of these questions is yes. Just this year we’ve experienced political unrest, catastrophic natural disasters, senseless shootings, scandals, and crushing racial tension. When we factor in our personal challenges these realities are enough to superglue us to a pit of pessimism and hopelessness.
I am tempted to rent a uhaul, pack up all my stuff, and take up residence in this spot but something inside me is discontent with this place: telling me, sometimes screaming – if need be – “We cannot stay here!” I am convinced it is hope; she is relentless.
She urges me with persistent nudging to pursue that John 10: 10 life Jesus promised. When knee deep in difficulties hope says, “Keep Going!” Hope enables me to see abundant reasons to be grateful for life and living.
But hope must be cultivated. She can defeat discouragement on any day of the week but we must condition her to do so. For this reason I am offering three ways we can all cultivate relentless hope.
# 1 Prayer
Prayer has single-handedly become my lifeline: offering me hope when I need it most. This simple act of humble communication gives me an opportunity to speak with my heavenly Father. There is no pretense or formalities, just me on bended knee, drowning in a sea of tears as I pour my heart out to God.
Somehow in this place the blinding scales are removed from my eyes and I emerge with laser sharp clarity. I am able to see and understand that pain is a necessary part of this life that no one will escape. I am able to embrace the reality that it is possible to know pain and peace at the same time. Prayer enables me to walk through the depths of discouragement with hope and optimism for the future.
#2 Develop an Arsenal of Scripture
The Bible is a more than a book. In 2 Timothy 3: 16 (NIV) it says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” This means when we read scripture we are reading the very words of God to his children.
These words are life giving and the antidote for a sorrowful heart. When we are overcome by discouragement we must immerse ourselves in the life-giving words of God. His words have the power to infuse hope where it does not exist.
# 3 Gratitude
Have you ever made a list of all you had to be thankful for? This single act alone is enough to stage a hope takeover in your mind. Although life has a tendency to blindside us, we always have something to be grateful for: topping of the list would be life itself. No matter what we may be facing, life is God’s greatest gift to humanity. If we are breathing we have something to be grateful for and that is a reason to have hope.