Finding Hope In Hard Times
Life often seems to be a constant fluctuation of emotional highs and lows. As sure as the sun rises and sets each day, there are going to be peaks when everything is going great and valleys where nothing seems to be going your way.
It’s no problem dealing with the best moments of our lives, but handling the lows can be a difficult task. Today we live in very troubled times: the Covid pandemic has taken over most of the world, a new pandemic called monkeypox appears to be gaining ground, mass shootings continue, war in Europe escalates, inflation is still rising, political turmoil boils in many countries. Just reading that list is enough to stir up anxiety.
People are being affected by these events in many profound and very real ways. Death, isolation, fear, facing the unknown, and grief and loss can strip us of our joy and may lead to depression. Mental illness has reached crisis proportions in our country.
While you cannot control what happens outside your door, there are things you can do to maintain a positive, hopeful and even joyful mindset. Here are some tips that may be helpful.
Maintain Your Relationship With God
This first tip is by far the most important. Everything changes when you have a personal relationship with God. Some people think that’s complicated, but it’s really as simple as A-B-C:
A: Admit that you’re a sinner. That’s not an insult, it’s just reality. The truth is we’ve all said, done, and thought things that were wrong. So the first step is to just be honest and tell God, “Yeah, I’ve messed up.”
B: Believe that Jesus paid the price for your sins. God is just, and He has determined that wrongdoing requires punishment. But God is also love, and so He sent His only Son to take your punishment on the cross. The second step is to decide, “Yeah, I believe that.”
C: Confess that Jesus is your Savior and Lord. The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Salvation is a free gift offered by God– all you have to do is say, “Yeah, I want that.”
Admit, Believe, Confess– that’s it! If you’ve done that, you’re a child of God! Your life will never be the same.
The Bible is full of promises that our loving Father has made to His children. One of my favorites is the last words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). When you ask Jesus to be your Savior, your sins are forgiven and you enter into a wonderful new relationship with God. From that moment on He will always be with you, no matter the circumstances. When times are good, He is there. When times are bad, He is there. His presence gives tremendous comfort and strength.
Surround Yourself With The Right People
The second tip is to make sure you have the right people around you, especially when you’re going through a difficult time. Everyone needs a support network, people you can always depend on. A good place to find such people is in a local church.
Resist the urge to isolate. Oftentimes when life is really beating us up, we retreat into the solitude of our home, wanting to throw the covers over our heads and be left alone with our thoughts.
Make no mistake, sometimes periods of solitude are healthy and necessary. However, when you find yourself in a really low spot, connecting with those who make you happy is essential. Meeting together in person is preferable, but if situations prevent that, technology provides a myriad of ways to connect either online, by phone or text, or even good old-fashioned cards and letters.
At the same time, you need to be careful to avoid those people who bring out the worst in you. This is especially important for those who are battling addiction of any kind. Negative individuals are especially important to keep out of your life when you are already struggling to find hope in your current situation. Shield yourself from too much social media or other activities which may be emotionally draining.
Remind Yourself Of The Old Adage, “This Too Shall Pass”
Nothing in life is permanent. So let’s repeat that: “This too shall pass.”
During periods of extreme happiness and joy, thinking about the temporary nature of each season in life is not something we like to dwell on. But keeping this truth in mind during the low times can be very beneficial. Whatever you are going through, no matter how bad it may be, it WILL pass.
In fact, most of the difficult times you experience in life will end without any extra effort on your part. It is so easy to get into the mentality that we have to put forth an immense amount of effort to make something bad go away. Even though this is sometimes the case, often TIME is the only remedy for tough situations. If you want to maximize your hope and joy during difficult times, remember that your situation is not the way things are, only the way they are RIGHT NOW.
Don’t Be Ruled By Feelings Or Circumstances
Since we have discussed how life is divided into highs and lows and the fact that nothing will lasts forever, this leads to another tip to keep in mind during the best AND the worst periods. Namely, if you want to have hope on a consistent basis, it cannot be dictated by your feelings and circumstances.
If you let every good thing that happens to you leave you soaring on cloud nine and every negative situation send you crashing to earth, you will go through life in a state of emotional exhaustion! Stable, consistent, sustainable hope and joy can only be created and found in your relationship with God. Psalm 18:2 says, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge…” Let God be your Rock when times are hard. Let Him be your stability; let Him give you strength. Let Him rule your life, rather than your feelings or circumstances. You can depend on Him.
Let The Bible Be Your Guide
My final tip is to start (or continue) reading the Bible. It’s the Word of God, a wonderful love letter to His children. Will you understand everything you read? No– and that’s okay. God will speak to you through certain verses. And He’s got lots of good news for you.
For instance, did you know that the word “hope” appears 180 times in the Bible? By the way, the word “hopeless” only appears once. That should tell you God is the God of HOPE! He’s a good God, and He has good things in store for you!
So don’t be discouraged by hard times or the bad news you hear. God’s got this– and if you’re His child, God’s got you, too. Now that’s hope for the heart!
Did this article encourage you? Share and subscribe!
“Is A New You Really Possible?” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/is-a-new-you-really-possible
“Where Is God In All Of This?” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/where-is-god-in-all-of-this