When the storms come, do you find it hard to hold on to hope, slipping into anxious, negative thinking? Or do you put your whole heart into hoping things will get better, that your problems will quickly be solved or go away? With all the uncertainty in our world these days, what could be wrong with hoping for the best? My first thought has been that by knowing God, we never need to lose hope. But it isn’t quite that simple and that’s not the whole picture. Does being hopeful help us or could it also hurt us?
An anchor is often used as a symbol of hope. In ancient times an anchor was associated with safety. Being anchored could mean stability, security and being grounded. Yet an anchor is designed to sink, it gets stuck. The anchor’s function is to hold the boat in place. It doesn’t allow freedom and progress in your travels. The anchor could hold you back when it is time to move. As a storm roars, the waves get choppy and the winds blow fiercely. On a sailing website (https://sailingbritican.com/anchoring -in-a-storm/), it said “if things get really bad, our best bet is to up anchor and head out into sea away from other boats, land, etc.” It also said, “To reduce fear and be able to sleep at night, you want to know that you have an anchor that will keep you safe.” If you are looking for an anchor of hope, God is up for the job. But He may not hold you tight in the way you expect and He may sometimes ask you to give up your hope for safety as He takes you head-long into the storm. Even with God by your side, if you hope for smooth sailing, you are likely to be disappointed. History tells us God loves adventure and surprises, so get ready for a bumpy, exhilarating ride, losing the hopes that are pulling you down and hanging on to the hopes that lift you up.
Here are some things to Do when you are losing hope…
- Do let go of intense personal desires – those things that you are begging for. You might think you cannot be happy without them. Sometimes our hopes cause us to fight battles we can never win. Remember that our ways are not God’s ways. Insisting on having what we want is the behavior of a spoiled child, not a mature child of God. Psalm 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.
- Do hold on to God’s Promises – God is good and He loves you. Hebrews 10:23-24, Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promises. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
- Do take actions which move you in the direction of your hope. God designed us to have free will; we are not meant to sit idly as a storm hammers away at us. If you keep thinking about what you want to do or what you hope will happen and you don’t do anything, it will not happen. (idea from Dutch Philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, lived 1466-1536 AD). God gives signs when we are on the right path, keep stepping out in faith, knowing that God will show you the way.
- Do accept things that are outside of your control. More effort doesn’t always bring greater results. If anxiety, fear, worry and depression pull on you, accept them, stop hoping they will go away and they will lose their power over you. (idea from tinybuddha.com) Surrender your control to God, letting Him know that you are putting your trust in Him. Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth.
Don’t do this when you are losing hope…
- Don’t let your hopes be out of touch with reality. Wishful thinking that is extreme or fanciful will not help your state of mind or resolve your problems. Gambling with the money you do have, hoping to hit a jackpot, will not move you toward reducing mounting debts.
- Don’t be careless about protecting yourself from harm. You may hope for God’s protection but you have a responsibility to be safe and take care to avoid possible risks to life and limb.
- Don’t give God ultimatums. When you are struggling, you may be tempted to test God. “God, if you are real and you love me, you will give me the desires of my heart, otherwise I won’t believe.” You only hurt yourself.
- Don’t give up the fight against the darkness. God provided a physical world with beauty and challenges, and yet a big part of the journey we are on takes place at a spiritual level. Battles and triumphs take place in our thinking. Use your hope in God to resist the attacks that the enemy hopes will sink you. If you’ve prayed and hoped and nothing is changing, know that God will provide you with the grace and strength to handle it. Light always wins over darkness.
Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.