Stone Soup for Five: Keeping hope alive (when everything seems dismal)

Keeping hope alive (when everything seems dismal)

How do you keep hope alive when you're slogging through the muck and completely overwhelmed?

Or when things seem to be getting worse and there are no glimmers of light, how do you hope then?

This year I'm meditating through Psalm 119 and came to verses 49-52:
Remember the word to thy servant, in which Thou hast made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy word has revived me.
The arrogant utterly deride me, yet I do not turn aside from Thy law.
I have remembered Thine ordinances from of old, O Lord, and comfort myself.
According to these verses, what causes hope?
  • reading and meditating on God's Word
  • remembering God's promises
  • recalling God's past faithfulness
  • and our active work
Yes, you read that right:  hope is WORK.  And not just work, but HARD work.  Hope WILL NOT happen by itself.

  Hope is work.

Romans 8:25 "...but if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it."
1 Thessalonians 1:3 "[we] constantly bear in mind your...steadfastness of hope..."

Perseverance.  Steadfastness.  Hope is perseverance.  And perseverance is patiently waiting with hopeful endurance.  It is to be constant, firm; to show determination, endure, keep at it.

Hope isn't always a smiling, joyful romp through golden sunlit daisy fields when all is well in your world.  Hope is at its best when covered with dirt, scrapes and bruises, torn and ragged clothes, and is still persevering. 

So how do we learn this kind of dirt-smudged hope?  How do we, in real-life actually keep hope alive when everything seems dismal?

  • Keep your hope in the right place
    • Hope that lasts is hope in God, not in the outcome or result. 
    • Persevering hope is making sure that what we're hoping for is God's will.  What is God's will?  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says God's will is to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.  (In fact, all of 1 Thessalonians 5 is worth studying!)  John 6:40 also says the Father's will is for us to look on the Son and believe in Him.  
      • TO DO:  Search the Scriptures for what God's will is for believers.  Write your findings down in your journal and keep reminding yourself of that truth.
  • Confess your sin in this area
    • Have you lost hope in something?  Is it because you are doubting?  fearful?  relying on yourself?  Examine yourself, dig deep. Why have you lost hope?
      • TO DO:  Confess, pour your heart out to Him.  Ask for His help like the father in Mark 9:24.
  • Gear up and plan to work hard
    • Hope that lasts is cultivated.  Hope is the tender seedling in a well-cultivated and maintained garden.  Weeds will spring up, but if you focus on keeping the garden healthy, the weeds will easily be seen, squeezed out, and die.
    • Some examples of daily cultivation: 
      • Bible reading
      • Meditation on His word
      • Prayer
      • Remembering God's past faithfulness in your life and the lives of others.
      • Reciting the promises He has made to us.  (Deuteronomy 31:6)
      • TO DO: Which one of these examples do you need to cultivate better?
  • Tending to your heart
    • Speak truth to yourself over the doubt.  Anytime a negative or hopeless thought comes into your head, take that thought captive and replace it with verses that comfort.
    • Reassure yourself of God's goodness and steadfast love
    • In Psalm 119:52  The Psalmist says that through remembering God's Word he comforted himself.  Comfort means to console, soothe, reassure, relieve.  What would that look like in your life?  What parts of God's word does that for you?  
      • TO DO:  Start hunting for verses that give you peace and comfort and grow your faith and trust.  Write them on in a journal, on your planner, on note cards, everywhere and start focusing on those rather than the doubts and worries.
What are some things that you do, or need to do to keep hope alive?  I think my biggest struggle is doubting that God's promises are really for me... though I know that is not true, my default when worry threatens to take my mind hostage is to lose focus on the truth.  

What about you?  
What do you do or need to do to keep hope alive?

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