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Take better care of your hope

George is a hard charging businessman who is known for getting things done. Now his marriage is a mess. He and his wife fight over the kids, the house, their finances. He’s lost hope.   Sue is 27 and unemployed. She’s moved back into her parents’ basement. She’s lonely and is beginning t…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
George is a hard charging businessman who is known for getting things done. Now his marriage is a mess. He and his wife fight over the kids, the house, their finances. He’s lost hope.
Sue is 27 and unemployed. She’s moved back into her parents’ basement. She’s lonely and is beginning to think she may never get married. She can’t afford her medication – she feels like life is circling the drain.
Jennifer is a mom without any life direction now that her kids are gone. She spent 20+ years pouring herself into her family and feels like her life is as empty as her house. When she thinks about the future, it’s bleak.
The homeless guy in this blog said, “I want hope, I want to quit
drinking, but I have no hope.”
People in America are more hopeless than they’ve been in a while. Their personal issues weigh heavy on them. Unemployment is up, debt is up and life is hard. The drumbeat of bad news fills their days and they don’t trust politicians to do anything about it.
We need hope if we’re to navigate life and we need to do a better job of taking care of the hope that we do have. The book of Hebrews talks about “taking hold of hope” so that we may be “greatly encouraged.” It calls this hope “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”*
Do you have hope that is anchoring your soul? Or does your soul feel like it’s floundering in a sea of adverse circumstances? It wasn’t meant to be like this. We all need more hope in our lives and we need to take better care of the hope that we’ve got.
What gives you hope? Your job? Your kids? Your theology? A lot of people go through life overwhelmed, looking forward to death as a way of wiping the slate clean and starting over. They sing the song, “Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away.”
We can do better than that. What exactly did Jesus mean when he promised us abundant life? Was he blowing smoke? Things were tough for his disciples. Their country was under siege; they themselves were homeless; they were persecuted and ultimately martyred – yet they remained hopeful. What did they understand that we’re missing?
We need to learn how to care for our hope. We need to protect it from attack and we need to add to it. Here are a few ideas as to how:
Protecting hope
Stop watching so much news. 90% of the news you hear through the media is bad news. It doesn’t even touch your life and there’s little you can do about it. There are other ways to stay informed without hearing about all the people that died in your town or how the economy is a mess.
Stop worrying. If you find yourself thinking “what if” a lot, then you’re living in an imaginary future. Choose to live in the present. As Jesus told his disciples, “Who of you can add one hour to your life by worrying?”**
Adding hope
Change your thoughts. What is right in your life? What gifts have you been given? What opportunities do you have? The Bible tells us to think about “whatever is true, noble, right, and pure.”***  Begin by making a list of those things.
Change your prayers. Instead of asking God for help all the time, thank and praise him for what he’s already given you. Cultivate a thankful heart and God will meet you in the midst of your prayer.
Change your friends. One of my daughters recently recounted how glad she was to get out of her old negative workplace. Teachers, don’t go to the teachers’ lounge if the people who hang out there are going to complain about their students. We all need to stop hanging out with losers unless God is specifically telling us to minister to them.

*Hebrews 6:18-19

**Matt. 6:27

***Phil. 4:8

Comments (10)

  • My wife, Sue, and I just got home from church, where she lead worship tonight. As we were reading this blog together she says that this is just what she was thinking about earlier and had wanted to say something about during worship, but it slipped her mind. She tries to let the Holy Spirit lead her in leading worship and sometimes her stuff doesn’t get out there. Nevertheless, it was on her mind today.

    She is the type to worry. I, on the other hand, tend not to worry. We both trust that the Lord is in control, but she still worries. She worries even now as our daughter is in the red light district of Thailand. I do not worry about her. I am thankful that the Lord has spared me from a worrying personality. Of course, we both pray daily for her and the rest of the WR team she is with, but she still worries.

    This blog was good for her to read.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the philosophy on protecting our hope. We quit watching the news several years ago and dropped our subscription to the newspaper. I believe that has helped to preserve our hope in mankind. Of course, being a teacher in a secular high school tends to dampen that hope a bit at times, but God has a way of refreshing that hope now and again, such as when we were recently in Haiti.

    I couldn’t help but think about our time in Haiti while reading about the people in the beginning of the blog. All the wile I was reading about them I was thinking, “they should go to Haiti, or some other mission field.” It is amazing how one can forget about one’s own problems when helping someone else in much more dire circumstances than our own.

    Under the ‘changing friends’ sub title, the comment about teachers not going to the teacher’s lounge to hear all the negativity about the students really hit home. Although I don’t hang out in the teacher’s lounge, I do have occasion to hear the griping, and admittedly, will add my own 2 cents worth to the converstation at times. That is something I need to work on.

    This is a good blog for me to read, too.

    Thanx. It is always good to read your blogs and apply them when appropriate, such as now.


  • What gives me hope? Jesus paid my penalty! In Matthew 28:9 He commands us to rejoice and to not fear. I just need to allow Him to work through me and quiet my unbelief.

  • I agree…great blog, great comments.

    God has been teaching me these very concepts this past year or two. Thanks again for the reminder.

  • This was a good insight on many levels but especially to identify “hope killers”. The Bible tells us “hope deferred makes the heart sick”. We have many people who like zombies wander around with no hope at all. And sometimes we are most encouraged when we are encouraging others. I especially liked the “get new friend” notion. We “are” the company we keep and anyone who is inauthentic, superficial, self focused or preoccupied with temporal things will squash hope that is eternal and springs from a cosmic source. Thanks again.

  • When hope is infused into a life in which it has been dwindling or extinguished it truly becomes the light of Christ. Our family has been through some rather extensive trials over the last year plus, but as I persevere and press in and on and trust I have seen God do some amazing things. It has really helped me in the “worry” department. My mom is a chronic worrier and grande dame of control…and now she is in the hospital undergoing some tests and neither of those approaches are helpful or positive. For me this has been an opportunity to communicate where my help comes from.

    May we be torch bearers and shine a bright light of hope into the lives of those who need it.

  • seth, you are so right about being around negetive people and overdosing ourselves with negetive media. i just wrote in my prayer journal (thanks for yr book again!) about how i was unknowningly making myself food for the devil. in recent years there has been a lot of outside criticism about my pastor and questioning of his gift of teaching. I was also very affected by a lot of believers attacking one another on the web (it is so depressing)and bad press in the local papers about certain churches and church figures here. It really stole my joy, confidance and hope in the things of God. but you know what seth, wednesday night i heard one of the best sermons ever. (God truly knows my heart and send a word in season for me) i came out of the service feeling SPOTLESS, REBORN and FULL OF LIFE and HOPE! pastor calls it the most important message a believer could hear pertaining to christian living and he is so right. i can’t elaborate here w/o sahring the entire sermon. it won’t do it justice. but i want to send it to you as a gift when the cd is out. pls share it with patti and kathy with my blessing. do email me yr shipping address. i realize now that the body of Christ has been under attack and we must use of gift of exhortation to lift up our brethrens.

  • For real this will make my top 5 quote list
    for 2010.
    ” We all need to stop hanging out with losers unless God is specifically telling us to minister to them.”

    For some reason God seems to have called
    me to hang with these man hike guys. Hmmmm

  • So very true – both the article and Dan’s comments. I pray that more people will experience the joy and blessing that comes from reaching out to hurting people and taking the focus off of themselves. We have so much to be thankful for!

    I agree with the getting rid of news as well. Years ago I would read the news for 2-3 hours per day (mostly as a procrastination tool) and my outlook improved when I stopped.

    You also need to watch out for “if only…” thoughts as these get you stuck in the past. At the end of February my left ankle was severely sprained playing dodgeball and as I lay on the ground clutching it in pain my mind started thinking ‘well if you would have stayed home and kept doing work this wouldn’t have happened.’ Self pity seems to go along with “if only…” thoughts as well. I am extremely active and one of the ways I worship is by going crazy exploring God’s creation so the thought of not being able to play ultimate, go trail running and having to cancel my backpacking trip was rather disheartening. The best way to counteract the if only/self pity attack is to QUICKLY start praising God and giving thanks. I gave thanks that I didn’t fall 2 inches farther to my left (I would have fractured my skull on a cinderblock corner), that it was my left ankle that was injured (so I could still drive), that I spent so many Sundays standing at the back of church balancing on one leg to stay focused and awake (good leg was strong for all the hopping I would have to do), etc. Jackson Senyonga said that oftentimes Satan’s greatest weapon against us is our past. How are you letting events from your past rob you of the hope and joy that God has for you in the present?

    When you get in bed think of three things that you can thank God for. Last week before church it took me over an hour to fall asleep because I was so filled with joy giving thanks to God for all of the blessings He has given me and those around me. It is really cool how once you make a habit of gratitude your eyes are opened to just how much there is to be thankful for.

    Memorizing Phil 4:6-8 is great – putting it into practice is even better!

    Another thing that has really helped me stay joyful is to turn a curse into a blessing. For example, I *really* (I mean *REALLY*) hate being stuck in traffic. A couple of weeks ago I got stuck in Friday rush hour traffic leaving town… my default response is to verbalize how much I hate traffic, having my time wasted, etc etc. Instead I prayed something along the lines of ‘thank You that I am able to easily drive 100 miles to visit my friend for the weekend, for the beautiful sky and sunshine today, etc.’ After that I was fine with it taking me 45 minutes to go 6 miles (though having Trip Lee playing and a good business book to read didn’t hurt). What are the things that frustrate you most and how can you be thankful for something the next time it comes up?

    I am still amazed at the impact that making a conscious choice can have. I would have been angry and frustrated on my drive if it weren’t for making a choice to find things to give thanks for. 2 Cor 10:5b says “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” A thought (which turns into action or speech) that curses and hates and condemns is not one that is obedient to Christ! Make those thoughts obedient to Christ by finding blessings and things to be thankful for and thus protect your hope and joy!

    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 – Romans 15:13

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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