How do you get hope when you don’t have any? That’s a huge dilemma, isn’t it?
When our oldest daughter died, I found myself in a place of depression, blackness, and hopelessness. As I kept crying out to God for help, He not only brought me out of that place of hopelessness, but He used it to birth the ministry of GPS Hope and turned me into an author. (I wrote four books within 13 months, and it hasn’t stopped yet as I have almost completed book number five!) I now have a passion to bring others out of that place of hopeless darkness and into hope, light, and life.
You may be surprised, but there are actually many things we can do to open the door to hope in our lives. In this article, I am only going to talk about four of them. They are things you probably already know in your head, but I am praying after reading through this, you have a new revelation of them in your soul that you will act put into action.
- Find things to be thankful for
- Don’t be a slave to your grief
- Connect with others who have hope
- Take care of yourself
1. Find things to be thankful for.
As Christians, we are told so often to be thankful that we tend to tune it out. But it is so true! I have been in some extremely dark situations over the years. (I share some of them in Triple Crown Transformation.) My discovery over the years is that when I force myself to find things to be thankful for, it may not bring an immediate response to my soul; but as I continue and I build on it, a spark of hope begins to stir inside me.
Here are some suggestions on practical ways to make sure you find things for which to be thankful to God.
- Keep a small notebook by your bed. Every night before lying down, write at least five things you can be thankful for. It might be a big event you were blessed to be a part of. It might be something as simple as, “I woke up today and got out of bed.” Hearing your children laugh, you have a place to live, you had money to get a haircut, you got to eat your favorite meal; these are all things to thank God for. It doesn’t matter how trivial others may see it. This is not for anyone else but you!
- Set a timer for every hour or two hours. When it goes off, pause for a few seconds to thank God for something.
- Before getting out of bed, take a minute to give a prayer of thankfulness to God. Be specific, and once again, it doesn’t matter how “trivial” the things you share with Him may seem. Start at whatever level you find yourself.
2. Don’t be a slave to your grief.
If you feel hopeless about a situation, there is probably grief involved. You have lost something important, whether it is a life-long dream, your financial circumstance, a job, an actual person, etc.
Any kind of slavery steals hope. When you’re hopeless, you are lost and in bondage.
May I present to you the thought that there is a difference between grief and self-pity? It is normal to have an initial shock, numbness, anger, intense sadness (or other negative emotions) to a deep loss of some kind. But there comes a point where it can cross over from grief to self-pity. The loss becomes our identity, and we let people around us continually know what happened to us. Some people identify this as a victim mentality. We allow ourselves to become a hopeless victim of the circumstance.
If this has happened to you, you need to make a conscious decision, a determined effort, to let go of how the loss wounded you. This includes obeying the command to forgive anyone involved in this unjust loss. (I address the struggle of forgiveness in a two part article, Giving Yourself the Gift of Forgiveness.) It is not a decision based on how you feel. It is a decision based on how you want to get out of the darkness and into a place of hope, and will do whatever it takes to get to that place.
Then you need to replace those lying negative thoughts in your head.
- Find scriptures that speak hope (I have made a list which is available in our free GPS Hope Members Library). Copy them and post them in prominent places.
- Find sayings that speak hope and life, and once again, copy them and post around your house, in your car and your work area.
- When negative images come into your mind, force yourself to imagine the opposite. See pictures of yourself doing something full of life that you want to be able to do in the future.
3. Connect with others who have hope.
I cannot stress enough how important this is! The saying, “Misery loves company” is so true. If you spend your time with others who are in darkness, you are going to stay in the dark. If you spend time with others who are in the Light, it is going to shine into your darkness, giving you the beacon of hope you need.
Here are several suggestions to guide you in this.
- Stay away from negative people! Remove them from your social media platforms. Don’t stand around and talk to them at church (yes, I said at church). Don’t sit with them in the breakroom at work. (I highly suggest doing this as discreetly as possible, not with some announcement that you are getting rid of the negative people in your life.)
- Find generic Facebook pages (or other social media platforms) of Christians who have a calling and anointing on their lives as encouragers. (People like Joyce Meyers, John Maxell, Lisa Terquest, Max Lucado.)
- Connect with people who have overcome in the specific area you are struggling in. There are many people who are throwing out a lifeline to those around them. They are on social media, writing books and blogs, making podcasts, putting videos on YouTube, and all kinds of other places.
- Find a group of people who are walking in the Light, and plug in to it. (Organizations like Celebrate Recovery is a great place to start.)
- Look for conferences and retreats. There is something about getting away where you can focus on allowing God to bring the hope you need through direct ministry, and time with the Holy Spirit. It catapults you in a way like nothing else seems to do. Ask God to lead you to the right event, and pray for Him to provide the finances, if that is an issue.
Obviously, making a choice to do these things means you have to put in a bit of effort. And once again, you might not see immediate results. But if you keep putting yourself in situations where you are seeing, hearing, and reading about life and light and hope, it is going to begin to draw you out of your hopelessness.
4. Take care of yourself.
The two things I am going to share may seem contradictory, but hear me out.
- Exercise. This is something I fought for a long time. When you feel hopeless, discouraged and depressed, it can often be the last thing you want to do. I have been to the place where I didn’t have the emotional or physical energy to exercise, even if I wanted to (which I admit, I did not want to).
It has taken me years to have a recent breakthrough in this area. I believe it is because once hope started trickling in, it gave me the desire to want to take care of myself. It still took months for the desire to turn into a committed decision that I am actually following through on, not allowing how I feel to dictate what I do, or don’t do. I started out doing very little. Just 20 minutes of light exercise while listening to an encouraging podcast. However, the combination of the exercise and positive input has pushed me to a new level of going from just having hope, to anticipating what God has for my life.
- You need to rest. Not just a physical rest, but an emotional rest along with it. When our daughter died, I spent countless hours in my prayer room, learning how to just rest in the loving arms of my Father God. The writer of Hebrews tells us to work hard to enter into a place of rest (Hebrews 4:11). I will confirm with my own experience, it is work, but it can be done. Learning to rest in God will bring hope into your life like nothing else can. The only way to receive this precious gift is to just do it. Make time for it. Keep at it. Don’t give up. To learn how to live life from a place of internal rest, peace and contentment, no matter what comes your way, is a valuable treasure worth the fight!
As I said at the beginning, there are actually many things we can do to set ourselves onto the path of hope. Please share in the comments below something God has shown you to do to find hope, when you don’t have any.
I want to end by speaking Romans 15:13 over you. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Gems from the Crown is a weekly blog from Crown of Glory Ministries to strengthen and encourage believers in Christ in their walk with God, especially in the areas of vision, authority, and identity. If you would like to have Gems from the Crown delivered directly to you, please click here.