It was Joseph Addison, the English poet and playwright, that said this, “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” It’s been that last section – something to hope for – that has captivated my attention that last few weeks.
Hope is one of those emotions that every human soul is searching to find. It’s an emotion that you absolutely know when you possess it and you are keenly aware of it’s absence when you don’t.
Hope has a way of proclaiming a battle cry to the wearied spirit, raising the eyes of the tired saint, and strengthening the feeble knees of a weakened sinner. Show me a person with the will to fight and I will show you a person that has hope. Show me a person who has lost that will and I will show you a person that has lost hope.
The important questions for us to answer in our every day lives are these:
- If you’ve lost hope then how do you discover it again?
- If you have hope then how do you maintain it?
1. Spend Time with God
I wrote in my last post that we find hope in God, his promises and through his son Jesus. However, we can’t expect to cultivate hope if we’re not cultivating our relationship with our source of hope. We must be consistently pursuing the habits of grace through study of the Scriptures and time in prayer.
We learn in 2 Timothy 3:16 that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness“. Our heart must be taught where to place our hope, corrected when we place it in the wrong things and trained to strengthen our hope.
Then through prayer we cultivate a deeper intimacy with God – the sustainer of our hope. During our times with God our heart begins to shift from hoping in “our kingdom come, our will be done” to “your kingdom come, your will be done”. The kingdom of God is bursting with hope while our kingdom is constantly striving after the wind.
2. Write Down Your Competing Hopes
One of the ways to cultivate biblical hope is to write down your competing hopes and compare them to the hopes promised in the scripture. Worldly hope promises you the world and then hands you the wind. If you achieve your hope it’s not what you thought it was and if you don’t then you can get caught up in despair. It’s a vicious cycle.
Biblical hope never leaves you wanting. You stop striving after the obsessive desire to be loved because you realize you are loved by the God of the universe (1 John 4:11). You stop striving to control all things because you realize God is in control (Col. 1:17). You stop trying to find satisfaction in things of this world because you realize that God satisfies the deepest longings of your soul (Ps. 73:25). It continues on and on. Where worldly hope leaves you lacking, biblical hope will fill you up.
3. Read the Book “Heaven”
The Apostle Peter said, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). Peter knew that hope is future oriented and directs our hope “fully on the grace” that we’ll find at the revelation of Jesus Christ in the final days.
Most of though have no real understanding of what we will experience in heaven. No, it’s not naked babies playing harps while we float around on clouds all day. To learn more about about what it will really be like read Randy Alcorn’s book on the subject and give your hope vision!
4. Get Into Community
The best way to cultivate hope in the long haul is to make sure you have people in your life adding fuel to the flame of hope. We are all going to have a point in our lives when our hope wanes and we need the encouragement of the community to help us persevere. The writer of Hebrews reminds us to encourage each other while today is called today – not tomorrow – but today. So find a healthy church, plug into community and help cultivate hope within a group of people.
Remember hope endures in community, but is extinguished in isolation. So fight to connect with community, encourage those around you and allow yourself to be encouraged.
Now go start cultivating biblical hope! Place your hope in God, give yourself vision for our future hope and bring that hope to a world so desperate for it.