We all need tools for finding hope when life is hard. I remember vividly the day, thirty-some years ago, when my husband told me that he was leaving. To say I was in shock is an understatement. My life was turned upside down. There were so many uncertainties that had to be navigated. I needed hope.
Life has many challenges:
- What are you facing now that is hard?
- What from the past do you wish you could change?
- What do you fear will happen in the future?
These moments in life can be crippling. If our focus is in the wrong place we can easily sink into the quagmire of despair. But don’t give up. Let me assure you it doesn’t have to be that way.
Hope is on the way.
When life is hard we need positive people in our lives. In these moments we ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’. We are too involved in the details of the problem to see the situation as a whole. When we are around positive friends, they help us keep things in perspective. The Bible talks about these kinds of friendships.
“Two are better than one, and a three-fold cord is not easily broken.” “Bear each other’s burdens.” “Comfort one another with the comfort that God has given you.” Ecclesiastes 4:9,12; Galatians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 1:4
Accept What You Can’t Change
Most everyone has heard the prayer, “God grant me the serenity of mind to accept what I can’t change, courage to change that which can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.” When we worry and stress ourselves about things out of our control, we waste a tremendous amount of energy that we need for other things. The resulting exhaustion distorts our perspective on life.
“Forgetting what is in the past (things I can not change), I press toward the goal set before me (things I can have control over).” Philippians 3:13
“Sometimes the things we can not change end up changing us.” Joni Eareckson Tada
Be Thankful For What You Have
When life is hard it often brings some kind of loss with it. As that happens, we must acknowledge what we still have and thank God for those people, things, and circumstances. Gratitude helps to cultivate a sense of hope.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:5
Get Plenty Of Rest
A rested mind adjusts to change better than an exhausted one. If you are having trouble sleeping at night, focus on the many things for which you are grateful. Studies have shown that a sense of gratitude relaxes the mind and helps one sleep better. The University of California at Davis found that gratitude decreased insomnia by 76% in their study.
Include Physical Exercise In Your Routine
Physical exercise can significantly increase your sense of hope. It increases blood flow to the brain and body. When life is hard we experience stress. With physical exercise, we help protect our bodies from the effects of stress. We must not neglect the care of our physical bodies. Exercise is essential in finding hope when life is hard.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of God?” I Corinthians 3:16
Give Yourself Grace
Occasionally our problems are the result of our own actions. Unfortunately, it is often easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. Accept that you are human and that all humans miss the mark from time to time. Problems can be due to simple mistakes. Other times they are due to our human desire to have our own way and the Bible calls that sin. Just remember that God is waiting and willing to forgive. In God’s eyes, you are no worse than anyone else.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
When life is hard it is often because of what others have done, governments have regulated, or employers have mandated. While it can be hard to forgive, we are held prisoner if we don’t. Literal prisoners are not free and unforgiveness prevents you from being free. Forgiveness is not condoning the actions of others. It is simply releasing our right to take vengeance. It is not our job to punish someone else. We must leave that to God.
“Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:17-19
Take Your Thoughts Captive
When prisoners are taken captive, there is usually a struggle. The same is true regarding what we think. Our thoughts will try to derail us at any given moment. They will push the envelope and demand their own way. We must not let negative thoughts have the upper hand. If we do, despair can easily take over.
“Taking every thought captive in order to obey the Messiah.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Get Out In Nature
God created an amazing world for us to enjoy. In the fragrance of flowers, the visual beauty of sunsets, the sweet sounds of birds in the trees, we can sense God’s presence. In nature, we can learn about the God who loves us and will never leave us. When life is hard, we are not alone if we have the Creator of the universe as our heavenly father.
“His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Romans 1:20
Claim God’s Promises
Claiming God’s promises is part of finding hope when life is hard. It is important to choose a couple promises and think about them often. Write verses on 3×5 cards or sticky notes, and place them where you can see them throughout the day.
God’s promises are important when you need to take your thoughts captive. In order to stop thinking about something negative, it requires that you replace those thoughts with something positive.
God’s promises are vital when we need encouragement. Once memorized, they become part of our life story. Promises that help us today will become tools we can use tomorrow to encourage others.
The following are a few of the promises that have helped me find hope when life was hard:
- “I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten.” Joel 2:25
- “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
- “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5
- “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
- “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Finding hope when life is hard – Be still and know God
The most important tool is knowing God in a personal way. This relationship is foundational in finding hope when life is hard. It requires time alone, talking to God (prayer), and listening to God (reading the Bible). Building this most important relationship can not be done with electronics clamoring for our attention. There is a reason that scripture says, “Be still and know that I am God”. Psalm 46:10. Turn off the television, cell phones, and other devices. Spend time alone with God. You will be glad you did.
If you do not know how to have a relationship with God, please call 1-888-Need-Him, or you can chat at www.chataboutjesus.com. Someone is waiting there to talk with you.
Finding hope – A gift for you
Since hope is found in the Lord, I want to give you the coloring page shown here.
Simply click on the picture to download. No Email is required.
When printed in a smaller size, it can easily be laminated and hung with string or ribbon on the mirror of your car.
Also see the resource page for journal pages, books, and music on finding hope, joy, and peace.