It has been a hard season. For me, and for many of you too, I’m sure. Circumstances in my personal life, in my community, and in my country seem to keep getting more and more challenging, and I find myself struggling to keep my head up and my heart strong through it all.
It feels hard to have hope sometimes, doesn’t it?
When I think about holding on to hope despite discouragement and disappointment, I’m reminded of a verse in Proverbs.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
I know that heartsick feeling all too well, yet the promise of the second half of that verse seems harder to remember when I’m in the thick of hard circumstances.
“At first glance, this line doesn’t seem like it could be a comfort to those of us with sick hearts,” writes Rachelle Windham in her Relevant article “God Has a Purpose in Your Disappointment.” The picture of the “tree of life” is more beautiful than we might realize though.
“That same symbol is used in the Garden of Eden as the promise of provision, in Jeremiah 17 to illustrate a man whose trust is in the Lord, and in Revelation 22, which describes another tree of life that bears fruit in the new earth,” Windham writes.
This verse sums up so much of the struggle of having hope-- it requires wholehearted trust in the Lord’s goodness, faithfulness, provision, and his promises. It can be so hard to have faith in the unseen and to stick it out for the long haul, holding on to the belief of good and glorious things to come in the future.
“Our hope will ultimately find their restful bliss in Christ and His redemptive plan,” Windham writes. “He alone has the power to forever wipe away tears. He alone has the ability to satisfy the deepest longings of our souls. Only Jesus can heal our sick hearts. The beautiful part is that the deferment only adds to the bliss of fulfillment. It’s worth the wait.”
But how do we wait well? How do we hold on to hope faithfully? How do we trust God completely, especially when we are discouraged?
Here are a few simple ideas for when life gets hard and you’re struggling to believe in God’s promises:
- Journal your gratitude. Using a simple journal like this one will help turn your focus from your frustrations to gratefulness instead. Spend a few moments each day writing out a few things you are thankful for-- even if they feel small and insignificant. Over time, your attitude will begin to shift and you’ll start to notice a difference in your outlook on life.
- Spend time in prayer. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider doing a 30-day prayer challenge-- the prompts and Scripture passages for each day will help you focus on different ways to draw near to the Lord as you communicate with him.
- Share with a trusted friend. Sharing your struggles, doubts, fears, and worries with a loved one will help you to feel less alone in it all, and will bring comfort and encouragement. Often, others are going through similar things, and we’d never know unless we take the first step to share our own stories! Call up a friend today or get a coffee date on the calendar, and open up about what you’re going through. Chances are, you’ll both leave feeling more empowered to face the struggles of life knowing you have someone else in your corner.
- Meditate on Scripture. The voices in our heads can get loud and overwhelming, but the more time we spend reading the Word of God, the more his truth will seep into our minds and hearts. Start with one verse to memorize (there is a whole collection of Bible verses on hope here!) and spend time each day reading over it and reminding yourself of what the Bible says to be true.
“No ache will be wasted,” Windham says. “It all has a purpose. If you feel like you’ve been hit with one disappointment after another, know this: God is going to cash all that in one day.”
As we wait, through hard seasons and challenging circumstances, we can plant seeds of hope knowing that the Lord will bring them to life in abundance in his perfect timing. No matter what we are going through, no matter how we are feeling, the Lord has a purpose and a plan for it all. We can confidently have hope in him.
Photo credit: Unsplash
Publication date: November 15, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the design editor for Crosswalk.com.