“Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (AMP)
Life has a way of kicking us in the gut. For some, trials and tribulations happen in spurts … the good and bad times ebb and flow over the course of our lives. For others, life seemingly deals one disastrous hand after another. It is easy to lose hope, our confident expectation that something good will happen, when our lives are riddled with disappointment or when we are in the throws of grief or distress. We lose hope in life, in God, and in ourselves. With each hope-shattering experience, we train ourselves to expect nothing. After all, we avoid disappointment or heartache if we expect nothing, right? At least, that is our natural inclination … a sort of defense mechanism, if you will. The truth is, however, we do not have to … and we should not … live without hope because God gives us something far greater on the inside than any outside, worldly circumstance (see 1 John 4:4). Armed with that truth, ponder this question: wouldn’t you rather believe for a lot and receive some of it than believe for nothing and receive all of it (receive nothing)?
There is a difference between “hoping” and “wishing.” A “wish” is something we want to come true, but it has no basis in reality. “Wishing” lacks the power to bring anything to pass. “Hoping,” on the other hand, is having a desire with real expectation founded in truth … God’s truth. Hope is based on the truth of who God is and the promises He has given us. Biblical hope is not a “hope-so” … it is a “know-so.”
The Christian’s definition of hope is far superior to that of the world. Instead of wishing for something to happen, a believer knows that their hope is solid, concrete evidence because it is grounded in the Word of God and we know that God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19). The Christian has a hope that is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is a hope that is like faith…a faith that cannot be moved by circumstances or what the eyes see because an unseen God is seen in His faithfulness.
Today, we need to make a change. Imagine how good life would become if we simply refuse to stop hoping. Even if we hoped for something our entire lives and did not get it, we still would be better off than if we hoped for nothing and got nothing. Why? Because when we hope, we have joy.
In truth, Satan does not want our “stuff.” He wants to steal our joy (John 10:10). Joy produces energy (“the joy of the Lord is our strength …,” Nehemiah 8:10). A bad attitude causes everything to drain down … our strength, our peace, our joy, our hope. Alternatively, hope floats … it buoys our strength during difficult times and carries our expectations, which are grounded in the Word, to God despite our circumstances.
Sadly, many of us feel almost obligated to have a bad attitude when we encounter life’s challenges. The truth is, however, our attitudes belong to us and us alone. On any given day, we can choose to believe God’s promises. We can choose to believe that something good will happen. Why, then, would we knowingly and willingly assist Satan by choosing a downtrodden, discouraging, negative-minded, pessimistic attitude? Do we not get, after all, what it is we believe (Matthew 21:22)?
The Bible teaches us that we are to cheer up in the midst of adversity and we are to do so purposefully. God does not work in us through negative attitudes of self-pity, laziness, passivity, or “everyone owes me” perspectives. God works through faith. Before we can have faith, we must have hope. Hope enables us to endure hardships and long waiting periods. Hope is looking at the promises of God and saying, “this is for me. I believe God is going to do this in my life.” A hopeful person does not succumb to the trappings of negativity. Instead, while recognizing and dealing with problems, a hopeful person remains hopeful in thought, in attitude, and in conversation. Instead of staring at their problems and occasionally looking to Jesus, a hopeful person stares at Jesus and occasionally glances at their problems. When times are tough, or we are dealing with disappointment, hope “floats” … it causes us to rise up in faith and say, “God, I praise You and I believe You are working on this situation and in me. My faith, trust, and hope are in You.”
The good news is we can decide to be hopeful. Hope is not something we have to wait to feel. We make a decision … our feelings catch up to that decision. If we allow our feelings and circumstances to dictate whether our hope is up or down, then the enemy is in control. We might as well turn over our life’s key to Satan and say, “do as you please.” Why not fight for ourselves instead?
Negative feelings are a given and we cannot prevent their arrival. We can, however, drive them away with right attitudes, actions, and conversations. Doubt and negativity steal hope … they block it. When we feel down and hopeless, we need to resurrect a positive attitude … an attitude that declares, “something good is going to happen to me and through me” and “if God can bless anyone, He can bless me!”
Living a life of hopeless despair is not the way God wants us to live. That life is not the destiny that Jesus purchased for us with His blood. God wants us to be “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12). He wants us to trust that He can change what needs to be changed, that we can do what He wants us to do, and that all things are possible with Him. Instead of waiting with fear, anxiety, frustration, or works of the flesh, why not be happy and wait with hope? God is faithful. If we hold on to hope … if we let our hope float … we will see victory in our lives.
© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.