As Christians, we are never without hope. But what happens when we can’t feel it?
What is Hope?
If you ask Google to define hope, this is what you get:
a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
“he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information”
synonyms: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design, dream, daydream, pipe dream
“I had high hopes”
Wow… that is… underwhelming.
I don’t know about you, but if all the hope there was in life was like that, life would be pretty hopeless.
I’m glad that, in Christ, we have hope that outshines even the highest earthly hope.
But what happens when big and small hopes of our lives go unrealized? Solomon knew how it hurts when we can’t have what we long for:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12, NASB
It’s the opposite of how it feels when we receive what we long for.
While we can’t have everything we want, God doesn’t want us to live heartsick. In His Word, He tells us that what is to come will make any pain of this life seem small. Which is wonderful, but can be little comfort in the thick of pain or grief, or even the daily pressures and mundanities of day-to-day life.
It seems unfair that He would expect us to thank Him any way.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NASB
How do we stay positive when we’re in pain? How do we sing instead of cry?
The truth is, we don’t have to put on a brave face. We don’t have to bottle up our sorrow, or our fear, or our anger.
So, what do we do with all the ugly feelings? All the questions? All the doubts?
We take them to Him.
If you’re wondering how that works, check out the psalms. Many start with the cries of broken hearts seeking rescue, relief, redemption, restoration, relationship. They resolve in the psalmist’s reiteration of his trust in God, and praise to God for who He is.
Scripture is clear: We WILL suffer in this life. But we’re never alone in our suffering, and God can bring beauty in it, through it, and out of it. We overcome because He overcame.We overcome because He overcame. #ListenWhenHeSpeaks #hope Click To Tweet
Joy and happiness are very different. We can rejoice and give thanks in all things because we have a sure hope. Whatever we lose and suffer in this life, we have a tear-free eternity in God’s Presence ahead. When we choose praise and gratitude, we enter the reality of our future, and are made whole in our brokenness.
What Depression Steals and Gives
Severe depression has, at times, convinced me there isn’t anything worth hoping for in life, and I’m beyond the reach of grace for hope after this life.
But that’s just how I feel. Hope is not a feeling.
My struggles with depression and anxiety have taught me that feelings are unreliable. Truth remains Truth when I can’t believe it. We need to consistently remind ourselves of Truth. When we don’t spend regular time in God’s Word, we more easily lose sight of Truth and reality.
I know how hard life is when you don’t feel hopeful. Whether or not you struggle with mental illness, you will experience trials, loss, and dry seasons. Choosing to praise God is hard. If it feels empty at first, we can stick to it and let our actions and the thoughts we choose, lead our hearts.
Sometimes I resent feeling obligated to (try to) be grateful, even though choosing gratitude for all God’s blessings, regardless of the package they come in, clears my vision to accurately see the world and God’s hand at work.
I too easily lose sight of the HOPE.
One important reason to be in Scripture regularly is to be reminded we HAVE hope!
Let’s Share the Truth about Hope
If you’d like to read about our True Hope through the month of March, and practice learning God’s Word to live it, click here to sign up for Listen When He Speaks, a monthly Scripture reading and writing plan. Want to learn more? Click here!
The March list is LIVE! If you’re already signed up, you can click here to download the March reading list!Check out the March 2017 Listen When He Speaks Scripture reading and writing plan! #HOPE Click To Tweet