“Hope deferred makes the heart sick...” Proverbs 13:12
Without hope we can literally become sick. Heartsick. Sick in our minds and souls. This sickness can lead to discouragement, depression, hopelessness. But how do we find hope? Where do we look for it? How do we gain it? How do we fill our hearts and minds with the hope of Christ? We may know in our heads that Christ alone is our source of hope... but how do we get our hearts to believe it, too?
“Hope, as you will find, is a skill that takes practice.” Edward Welch
Hope takes practice.
Hope takes faith.
Hope takes work.
Hope must be an active word in our vocabulary. Hope is not passive. Hope doesn’t arrive on our front doorstep. Hope must be invited in. Hope must be welcomed. Hope must be practiced. You may be wondering what I mean by “practicing hope” and this is a valid question. It sounds odd or maybe you’ve never considered before that we can be proactive and intentional about filling our lives with hope and joy.
8 Ways to Practice Hope
1. Pray often. Pray without ceasing. When you don’t know what to pray, say the Name of Jesus. Pray God’s Word.
2. Remind yourself of who you are in Christ. He delights in you! You are His child. You are chosen. You are loved. You are forgiven. You have the hope of eternity.
3. Confide in a friend. Do not suffer alone. Send out a plea for help by text. Let others walk alongside you in your trials.
4. Go outside. Nature can be therapeutic. Take a walk. Thank God for His beautiful creation.
5. Count your blessings. Actually name them. Write them down. Create a gratitude journal and add to it daily. Count your blessings one by one...
6. Praise. Did you know that when we worship and praise our Father the enemy flees? Praise silences the enemy. So turn up the praise music! Have a dance party!
7. Do not neglect fellowship through the Body of Christ. As hard as it can be when we are down and out, we must not forsake the assembling of believers. We were made for relationships. Allow others to encourage your heart and you can be an encouragement as well! Allow others to lift you up in prayer. And when you intercede for others, that also helps to take your mind off of your own problems.
8. Get in the Word. Stay in the Word. Pray the Word. Memorize the Word. Meditate on the Word. His Word gives life to us. Do not neglect the gift of His Word. This love letter from God is the key to our hopefulness.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
Friends, we must learn to fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before Christ, He endured the cross. Can you imagine? With joy he faced the cross... for you and for me. This passage tells us how to gain hope: “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
When we lose heart, we become hopeless. To not lose heart, we must practice hope. We must set our hearts and minds on things above and not on earthly things.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2
God’s Word is full of admonition and encouragement for where to fix our mind and thoughts. When we meditate on God’s Word, when we fix our hearts and minds on the things of God, what we are doing is practicing hope. And this act of practicing hope is essential to our abundant life in Christ.
- Written by Candace Crabtree
Hebrew 12: 1-3
What was something you hoped for as a kid for Christmas?
How has your concept of hope changed as you have gotten older?
What do you think it means to put our hope in Jesus?
Read Hebrews 12: 1-3
- What do you think this text would have mean to the first audience to read it?
- The author uses some great analogies in this text. What are they and what do you believe they are trying to communicate?
Read Colossians 3: 1-2
- What does setting our mind on earthly things look like practically in our lives?
- What does it mean to set our mind on things above? What would these things be?
- If someone else was to examine your life what conclusion would they make in what you put your hope in? What evidence would they find?
- What practice ways can we put our hope in Jesus? (Share the ideas above in the Leader Thoughts)
- How can we be an encouragement to one another to be people who put our hope in Christ?
Hope often brings praise to our hearts. Spend time together making a list of the things we can praise God with in our prayers. Spend time in prayer thanking him for His never-ending hope.
Children Teaching Element
1. What are ways that you teach your child the good news of the Gospel?
2. How do you explain to your elementary age kids what salvation is?