23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.Hebrews 10:23
In one of my previous posts, I talk about how everyone is dealing with something, how there are problems everywhere. I talked about my friend who got stuck in Portugal and how I secretly wished to be in her place. What I didn’t talk about, though, are some problems I’ve been facing.
When I listed the 5 ways to increase your hope, I wanted to cut to the chase and skip the parts of my life where I felt hopeless. I wanted to provide the tried-and-true methods of what worked. But I overlooked the power of personal experience, especially when God moves and works on our behalf.
These 5 ways to increase hope have become part of my life consistently. When I notice myself getting out of sync with myself, God, or others, I check myself and assess if I’ve been active in these areas. These aren’t set-in-stone, religious, or rigorous tasks. They’re intentional actions that I’ve disciplined into my life, one at a time.
If we profess hope, we must learn how to hold unswervingly to it. Read part one for more context.
In March 2021, I vented to my husband about my writing projects and some other things that were going on, hoping to get some motivation from him. But his tender response convicted my heart: don’t get offended, but you’ve complained about this before. I didn’t recognize that I got to a place of consistent complaining!
I spent that evening thinking back to all the problems I’ve faced in recent months (even years) and noticed how, with each problem, my complaining increased. Wanting to change that, I researched what it would take. Bible verses, blog posts, motivational speakers, pastors, and even my husband said the same thing: practice gratitude. And so, I started.
To get discipline in this practice, I committed to writing at least 3 things down every day. There were days when I forgot, didn’t make time, or got too lazy, but as time went on, those days were more seldom. I changed my formats, titled it differently (called it “wins” for a while), wrote them down at different times, and finally came to a point of consistently writing 3 things I am grateful for every night before I go to bed. For my birthday, my husband bought me a daily gratitude journal, which simplified my process even more. I keep this journal on my nightstand and to this day write at least 3 things I’m grateful for every night.
This didn’t minimize the seriousness or intensity of my problems, nor did it distract me or make me avoid them. Instead, it changed my attitude, approach, and perspective. It helped me affirm what was already good in my life and in the world. Despite the corruptness and brokenness, it helped me see the beauty in creation and how God was working.
It helped me look outside of myself and my problems and expanded my capacity to help others and inspire them to pursue their dreams. I went from occasionally feeling grateful to being a grateful person, which increased my hope no matter the problems I faced (and face).
Your turn: how can you implement this practice into your daily life? If you have, what changes did you see?
PRAY AND MEDITATE
James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Meaning, it works!
Just like I can’t go a day without talking to my husband, I’ve pursued to have this approach to God. It’s not about being hyper-spiritual or overly religious, but about pursuing a relationship with God. Prayer is our way of communicating with Him. He gives us direction and guidance about our present problems and rejoices with us when good things happen. I recognize the value in setting aside time for prayer, but I’ve found it more effective to pray throughout my day, every day.
First, it takes off the pressure of trying to achieve a “goal.” Prayer and meditation are ongoing things. It’s not a one and done, time to move on type of thing. Second, it helps you become more attentive, alert, and available to God’s voice. His spirit is one with yours and so when you’re in prayer and meditation, you will recognize His will for you in specific situations because you’re seeking Him and His Kingdom. You’re pondering on His word, which is alive and active.
Another powerful and effective aspect of prayer is praying with others. The first part of James 5:16 says, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. I venture to say that when we are decreasing in hope; we lose trust in God. It’s important to have trustworthy people to share your struggles, doubts, and moments of hopelessness so that they can pray with and for you.
When my uncle passed away unexpectedly, our family dealt with the reality of death, grief, and extreme sorrow unlike anything we’ve experienced. I come from a very large, tight-knit family, and he was the first sibling on my mom’s side to go. She is one of 16 kids (biological, from the same set of parents).
And one of the biggest hope-increasing factors was praying for each other. Not only between family members, but from our friends and church families. To know that they backed us up in prayer throughout this time increased our hope vastly! And it motivated us to reach out and pray for others to increase their hope as well!
Your turn: how can you implement these practices into your life? Who can you go to for prayer and who can you pray for?
Your information consumption shapes the way you view the world. From the shows you watch, books you read, and the podcasts and music you listen to, to daily news, social media posts, and TikTok reels, it all affects us. By taking inventory of your inputs, you filter out what’s helpful to you now versus what’s not.
It’s true that there are seasons where you have the mental and emotional capacity to watch various tv shows, scroll endlessly on social media, or pay attention to the news. But there are other times where you need to put it all on the shelf and “fast” from the things that could easily weigh you down, decrease your hope, and distract you from what’s important.
In early February, I deleted my social media apps from my phone. I was constantly checking my notifications, obsessing over each post, perfecting each caption, and getting consumed by questions like, am I posting enough or too much? What should I post tomorrow? How can I stay relevant? What will others think? It really distracted me from doing what I wanted to do, made me feel like I wasn’t doing or being enough, and increased my FOMO (fear of missing out).
Now that I’ve been off it, I had time to focus on my writing (for my blog and book–which you can sign up here to know when it comes out!). It helped me be more present in my relationships, work on more projects (such as painting, journaling, and reading), and most of all, I find myself in a consistent place of hope.
With the war happening between Ukraine and Russia, I’ve had the capacity to help, encourage, and pray for these countries and my friends and family, who are directly affected by this. Instead of getting lost by opinions on social media and reposts of what others are saying, I’ve had meaningful conversations that strengthened my relationships and brought us to a place of unity and, again, hope!
Taking inventory of your input is one of the most practical ways to increase your hope!
Your turn: how can you implement this practice into your life? How can you take inventory of your inputs to filter out what’s helpful versus what’s not?
READ THE BIBLE
Romans 15:4 says, for 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. The entire Bible, and I mean both Old and New Testaments, does this.
I’ve heard preachers (and have said this myself) that books like Leviticus or Deuteronomy are boring and irrelevant. But I wish I could take that back from every conversation and sermon I’ve said, because without the Old Testament we wouldn’t have context for the New. We cannot cherry-pick verses and chapters that make us feel good while avoiding the ones that make us somewhat uncomfortable or disinterest us.
When you read places in scripture that are confusing, take some time to investigate the Jewish context to learn and understand the culture of the time of its writing. Doing so will help you glean the encouragement, comfort, and godly counsel that the OT provides. It will also help you connect the full story and the Gospel of Jesus, bring you closer to Him, and help you understand God’s will and purpose for your life.
I come across moments where I want to give in to my problems and worries instead of hoping in God. But reading the Bible increases my hope because the Word seeps into the spirit of my mind and helps me live according to the spirit, instead of the flesh (Romans 8). I hate to admit that feelings and thoughts of inadequacy creep in often, telling me I’m uneducated or unexperienced in the things I’m passionate about. But the Word of God helps to cleanse me from these thoughts. It teaches me to renew my mind, and to get my confidence from God instead of myself, others, and titles or accolades. (Ephesians 5:26, Romans 12:2, Jeremiah 17:7).
Sometimes I go through seasons where I can follow a solid Bible reading plan and read daily, but then I come across times when I just don’t have the brain-space for it and end up going a few days or a couple of weeks without it. The days I took to read the Bible set me up for the days where I feel like I can’t.
Reading the Bible increases your hope because it infuses you with truth, wisdom, and peace to have in every season. When you read the Word, it stays in you! And you can turn within to it and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into its truth.
Your turn: how can you implement this practice into your life? Do you know the contexts of your favorite Bible verses?
REACH OUT TO OTHERS
Finally, when you need more hope in your life, it’s important to reach out to others. It can seem like the worst idea because you have to open up and get vulnerable. But the biggest lesson I learned is that everyone is dealing with something and that reaching out to others will diminish feelings of loneliness.
Whenever you feel alone, you’ll get surprised at how many people will relate to your problem and say, “me too.” The specifics won’t be the same, but the situation can be similar. For example, my church hosts women’s events every month and something I leave with every single time is a bigger awareness that every single person is facing something. There are individual struggles, family and relational issues, work stuff, and so on.
It also reminds me of when I got together with my family for my uncle’s funeral and celebration of life. It fascinated me we were there for a united purpose, but still every single relative had a personal problem that they were walking through. To quote Maya Novak from Thrive Global again, she shared, there’s nothing like a sense of belonging during difficult times. When you go through tough times, you can feel like you are bearing all the weight alone. You feel nobody can understand what you’re going through. But you are not alone!
Like I mentioned earlier, everyone is dealing with something. If you find it difficult to reach out to find support from another, reach out on their behalf. Genuinely check in on them and see how they’re doing. Reaching out to help and support others is a way to increase hope, too!
Your turn: how can you implement this practice into your life? Who can you reach out to in your times of trouble? Who can reach out to you?