Reasons to Climb out of Despair into Hope
Have you ever felt so hopeless you didn’t know what to do? Have you ever felt weighed down and stuck in the Bog of Despair (or, Slough of Despair, according to John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress)? You know as a child of God that you shouldn’t feel that way, but you do. What do you do? How do you boss your feelings around when you can’t see anything else?
This is something I struggle with all the time. I’m an emotional person (yes, I’m a woman). One of the ways I’ve learned to deal with feelings is to expect them.
However, I tend to expect the worst. I’ve developed a defense mechanism against disappointment: assume the worst will happen, and then I won’t be disappointed. Anticipating the bad prevents my ideals from being crushed and my hope being deferred, which make my heart sick (Prov. 13:12). It also has the added benefit of allowing pleasant surprise when the worst doesn’t happen (99% of the time).
Unfortunately, I spend a lot more time wallowing in anticipating the worst than I do in reveling in the pleasant surprise. The extended negativity wears on me. And my loved ones suffer.
My thinking began to change when I heard about the One Little Word for the Year challenge. I was supposed to choose a word at the beginning of the year and watch how it came true throughout the year. It sounded a little hokey and superstitious to me, at first, I’ll admit. But I decided to try it. What could it hurt? So, I tried “Believe.” And I was surprised how it cropped up over and over again, without me even looking for it.
I created my little scrapbook for “believe,” and then I needed to decide on another word. I had the hardest time coming up with anything. I finally landed on “Hope.” It sounded good. I didn’t know if it was applicable to me, but it sounded good.
That was the beginning of a year filled with amazing insight and deep reflection—about myself and others. And it’s still continuing…the Lord didn’t end it with the calendar page for December 31st being torn off the wall. No, the Lord had something in mind for me, beginning and ending with HOPE.
And that’s why this blog was born. To share what He’s shown me about Hope. To encourage you that you can have Hope, too. And to gently guide you to the only place I’ve found it—the only place anybody can have true Hope—Jesus Christ our Savior.
Here are four reasons to Hope, how Hope pulls us out of despair:
● Hope anchors us to the Truth.
● Hope gives us Focus
● Hope develops Character in us
● Hope helps us Persevere
1. Hope anchors us to the Truth, like many Biblical heroes.
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20, ESV).
David. In Psalm 42:11, David made the choice to hang the outcome on God’s shoulders, instead of letting himself be tossed about with doubt and despair.
Paul. “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:23-25, ESV).
Abraham. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10, ESV).
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Romans 4:18).
written by David
2. Hope gives us Focus.
What we hope for is what we strive for, the finish line of our race. Having a goal to work toward and anticipate helps us weed out what is unimportant. Looking to Jesus, we lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us, and we run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2). We forget those things that are behind and strain forward to what lies ahead, pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14).
Where is your Focus?
What we focus on grows.
3. Hope develops Character in us.
Hope gives us the reason to wait patiently, which develops our spiritual maturity. In Romans chapter 15, Paul explains:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this 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” (Rom. 5:3-5).
4. Hope helps us Persevere.
Hope is the reason we can persevere through the hard times. “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4, NIV).
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-13, ESV).
comes from victory in the Holy Spirit sanctifying us from previous strongholds
There is no reason to feel hopeless! When that feeling comes upon you, no matter how strong, how matter how real it may seem, fight back against the devil with God’s anchor of Truth—Hope. Hope allows us to be absolutely confident about God’s promises; they will happen. It’s just a matter of time. So, because of His Faithfulness, we can persevere, developing our character in the meantime and in the midst of the trials, because we are focused on the finish line, the end of the race: “that blessed Hope” (Titus 2:13).
I hope you are kicking hopelessness to the curb by now! I have a challenge for you. Go and apply these benefits to your spiritual life this week. Help a friend while you’re at it by sharing this post :)”
Join the conversation: Which of these 4 benefits from Hope do you need most? How are you going to choose Hope this week? Comment below or on the post in our private Facebook Group, Practical Living for Christian Women. See you there!