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. Romans 15:13Romans 15:13
Over the next few months, we will enter into what is known as the “holiday” season, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am reminded that this is a season of hope; a time to focus on the hope of Christ. You’ll see the season of hope mentioned on Christmas cards, commercials, decorations over the next few months. And yet you will see many hopeless people, hear and read many hopeless stories.
I want to give you 4 steps to getting your hopes up and then talk about the things that can get in your way!
Your Thinking Affects Hope
First–What kind of thoughts have gone through your mind today? Are they hope-filled or hope-less? I often hear these expressions: “I hope my marriage will last.” “I hope my kids will be happy.” “I hope I have enough money.” “I hope my business will be successful.” We can’t “hope” things into existence. Misplaced hope is placing hope in us, our abilities, our situation or circumstance. Or worse yet, placing our hope in others and their actions. Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had and that things will turn out for the best, to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.”
You won’t hear a lot about hope on the evening news or on the internet. Placing your hope in the things of this world is a mistake and will only lead to disappointment and discouragement.
Why We Don’t Get Our Hopes Up
Here are just a few of the quotes and phrases I found in researching our culture and hope. 331,000,000 hits on google about NOT getting your hopes up. Have you said or at least thought these things? Why?
- Too many high hopes, too many disappointments.
- Don’t ever get your hopes up and you will never be disappointed.
- No expectations, no disappointments.
- I’m tired of getting my hopes up for things I know will never happen.
- Don’t get your hopes up—it’s always too good to be true and there is always and catch.
- Hopelessness is in the world. Just look at the economy, unemployment, poverty, crime and the attitude toward politics in our culture.
- But our hope is in God. As Christ followers, our hope is in Him.
- Get your hopes up! God is good.
Research on Hope
Hope is powerful! Some years ago, I heard a story that exemplifies how powerful hope is–
A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!
The first thing you need to know is I despise rodents. But after reading the account of this experiment, I even felt sorry for the rats!! That some of them would lose hope so quickly and die, and the others who had seen evidence of hope lived so much longer. Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.
If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should the effect be on our lives?
Again, where are you today, right now? I say Get Your Hopes Up and here’s why.
Biblical Examples of People Hoping In God
The Bible is full of examples of men and women who hoped in God’s promises. Abraham is held up for believers as a model of hope and for good reason.
When Abraham was 75, God promised to bless him and give him many descendants, as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abraham heard these words and believed God. And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:6
But despite his belief, explains, Abraham had to wait 25 years to see the fulfillment of his hope. 15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. Hebrews 6:15
Abraham trusted in God, until he saw the promise come to pass. His hopes were up because he trusted. (Can be a challenge, new and seasoned Christians,—blind faith? Yes!)
Abraham’s hope wasn’t in his own ability to father a child. It was rooted in a trustworthy God, and in His eternal promises.
The writer of Hebrews explains that God wants us to take encouragement from His character and hope in Him (Hebrews 6:16-18).
6 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.
In fact, the Scriptures describe this hope ” This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. (Hebrews 6:19a).
Get Your Hopes up!
So, how did Abraham do it? How did he remain hopeful for more than two decades? Look at Abraham’s relationship with God: he was a friend of God
2 Chronicles 20:7 “O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham?”
He was also God’s servant ….my promise to Abraham, my servant.” Genesis 26:24
He was totally obedient in Genesis 22. God commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac up the mountain and offer him as burnt sacrifice. He obeyed.
Increasing Hope by Uncovering Lies
Even if you know Jesus as your Savior, you can still lose hope. We learn from Proverbs that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). When our hopes are delayed, we can be overcome by a deep sense of despair, depression. (examples—family, finances)
In order to get our hopes up we must uncover the lies that the enemy tries to convince us of.
One thing that works in our favor is that Satan tells the same lies over and over again. He is not very creative… if we can begin to recognize his lies, we can be prepared for the next time he lies to us. Another thing to know is that he can also work through people. Over and over again he will lie to us.
We are all susceptible to the lies of the enemy. Know the word…study it meditate on it….learn it. Here are just a couple of examples of lies that can get in the way of our hope!
You will never have enough. (Poverty mentality/spirit) family history, strongholds, self talk (power of words).You can’t afford it—don’t dream or plan. No point. You don’t deserve more. Or the opposite-work constantly and enough is never enough. This lie can lead to hopelessness. And a lie believed long enough can become a stronghold on our life.
Get your hopes up about your finances!
If people really knew who you were, if they saw the real you, you would not be accepted.
I’m talking about being afraid to let people in, to let them know that we need prayer, have issues with our children or our marriage or our jobs, extended family etc. Hiding behind the mask of “everything is fine.”
Know who you are and whose you are. Read the word of God and believe it. This lie can lead to hopelessness and can keep us from close relationships. There is POWER in living an authentic, born again, Bible believing Free in Jesus life.
Get your hopes up about who you are!
Your marriage will always be defined by struggle. Believing the lie that your marriage will always be a struggle or that you will never reach agreement can lead to hopelessness. Leads to separation and divorce or resignation not to try.
Get your hopes up about your marriage!
These are just a few of the areas where the lies of the enemy can destroy our hope. Anywhere he can creep in, he will.
4 Practical Steps
Here are four practical steps you can take every day to build a sure foundation of hope.
1. Submit yourself to God. God is the source of our hope. Come to Him in humility and He will restore you. He will encourage you and give you the strength to face whatever comes your way.6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:6-7).
2. Strengthen your faith. By the Word–Allow God’s previously fulfilled promises to renew your hope. God has given us written record of countless ways He has provided hope for believers over time. Look to these accounts for renewal (1 Chronicles 16:11-21). Remember the fulfilled promises in your own life. When did God come through for you? When did He pull you out of a mess? This will strengthen your faith! By Holy Spirit—Romans 15:13
3. Trust God’s timing. Belief and Patience–Sometimes God answers our prayers and fulfills our hopes quickly. At other times, for He allows us to wait. Remember, it was through faith and patience that Abraham’s hope was fulfilled. Again, look back to times that His timing may have not matched your expectations, but He came through, brought you through a circumstance. Hebrews 6:11-12
4. Thank God today. Sometimes it’s tough to be thankful as we wait for hopes to be fulfilled, being thankful enables God to perfect us in ways we are unable to see at the time. And this kind of hope “does not disappoint” 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5).
Get your hopes up, God is good. We can stand on His word and what He has done in our life. We can live a life of hope. Hope is contagious. Spread it around…..share it. You’ll find true freedom in placing your hope in Jesus Christ.
Further study and prayer:
Ask the Lord to reveal any hope-less thoughts you may have. Ask for His guidance in turning those into Hope-filled thoughts. Read and meditate on this list of scriptures.