When discouraging and depressing news comes we need God’s help to lift up our heads, hearts, and hands. But once fear is cast out, we then have to build positive Christian hope in its place. Hebrews: 11: 1 states; “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For by it our ancestors won God’s approval.” Hope has many benefits. David Murray suggests at least 10 benefits of hope, the first of which describes one thing hope does.
Hope moves us forward. Christian hope is the expectation of and joyful longing for future good and glory based on the eternal word of God. The more we long for the future, the less we will wallow in the past. Hope deletes regrets and underlines expectations. It diminishes drag and increases momentum. Often, when trouble hits, it immobilizes and causes us to feel stuck.
Hope pulls us out of the mirk that immobilizes and gives us optimism, direction, and purpose.
Hope energizes the present. It is worth living today because tomorrow is so much brighter. What’s doomsday for most, is a new day for those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ. What most dread, we desire. One thing I have always believed is that, of all people in the world, Christians should be happiest. Christians have been given the promise of a bright future. Whenever a Christian is discouraged all she has to do is remember the promises of God. Irving Berlin wrote a song which was sang by Bing Crosby. The lyrics of this hymn are as follows;
When I'm worried and I can't sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep And I fall asleep counting my blessings When my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all And I fall asleep counting my blessings
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds So if you're worried and you can't sleep Count your blessings instead of sheep And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings
Hope lightens our darkness. Hope does not deny nor remove the reality of darkness and pain but it does shine a bright light into these valleys and points to the sunrise at the end of them. As believers, we don’t hope blindly. No, as a matter of fact, our hope is in what we expect, in what we have been promised, and in what is already beginning to shift in our time of discouragement. This is unlike those who have no hope. They who seldom see past the point of their own immediate perspective seldom conceptualize a better and brighter day.
Faith fuels hope, but hope also fuels faith.
Hope increases faith. As Hebrews 11 makes very clear, hope and faith are very closely tied together. Without faith, we cannot soar in hope, but without hope faith struggles. The greatest believers are the greatest hopers! Show those around you that you are not hopeless but that you are hopeful.
Hope is infectious. I know that may sound crude but just as we can drag others down by our moping, so can we inspire and motivate through our hope. It not only encourages other struggling Christians but it also impacts depressed unbelievers who cannot but ask a reason for the hope they see in us. When treating people who suffer with BPD (Bipolar Disorder) I try to encourage them to manage both their highs and lows. It is not healthy when they get overly ambitious our too deeply depressed. Much of what ails you can be treated with a simple shift in your thinking. Hope is the remedy for discouragement and depression and a hope-filled life is a wonderful testimony of the power of the Gospel. In 1 Peter 3:15 the author states; “In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
Hope is healing. When I counsel depressed people, one of the first things I do is try to give them hope. By definition, depression is a sense of hopelessness. Things feel like they cannot and will not get better. That’s why they need the hope that in the vast majority of cases, they will get better, there is a way out, and there are things that they can do to motivate themselves in their helplessness. That hope itself is a huge step towards healing.
Hope is practical. Hope does not mean we just sit and wait for a miracle to happen. Not at all! Hope motivates action. When we hope for better days for the church, we serve the church. When we hope for the conversion of our children, we are motivated to share the Gospel with them. When we hope for God’s blessing on His Word, we listen to it much more avidly. Hope produces action!
Hope purifies. Whatever persecution we experience in this world, the day will come when we will not only be called sons of God, we will be like the Son of God. This is what inspires and motivates the apostle John to persevere to the end and to persevere in holiness. “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
Hope stabilizes in the storm. There are sixty-six drawings of anchors in the catacombs, the caves and tunnels that persecuted Christians hid in during the Roman persecutions. Hope was their anchor during those dark days. The writer of Hebrews said; “Like an anchor, hope grabs what is out of sight.” As one puritan put it: “The cable of faith casts out the anchor of hope and lays hold of the steadfast rock of God’s promises.” The combination of your constant hope and God’s unbreakable promises is a recipe for sweet success.
Hope defends. The writer of Ephesians depicts hope as a defensive helmet that must not be taken off and put aside until the battle is over. The helmet also points us to the area of greatest vulnerability and danger – our thoughts. That’s where Satan usually works to present reasons to doubt and despair. And that’s why we need our minds daily renewed by the power of hope.
Although hope is not the most steadfast element in the triad of Faith, Hope, Love – it is constant, it is persistent, it is sure. Hope works to empower, motivate and mobilize. Hope is Having Our Peace Energized!
Rev. Wiley Hughes
D.Min., Psy.D., FBPPC, LPCA, NCC
Apostolic Leader of Destiny Now