Scripture Saturdays

hope-2046018_1280Still Hoping

I wanted to tell you how I was doing with giving up worrying and taking up hope for Lent.  Not very well is the answer.  I have been worrying a lot.  Not the stomach-sickening, paralyzing kind of worry, but the sneaky, persistent sort that makes me feel miserable before I can figure out why.

It is so alien to my nature to hope.  It feels false, like I am wearing an outfit I don’t like.  And our culture in general, in the arts specifically, equates hope with rose-colored glasses and chasing rainbows.  I can’t even estimate the number of times I have read that a TV series has “improved” because this season the storyline is darker, or an actor is excited her character has taken a dark turn.

I understand why artists turn to dark themes.  They believe that can get more dramatic mileage out of the destruction of a marriage than the restoration of one, out of a best friend’s betrayal than her faithfulness.

But it’s extremely difficult to live with such depressing expectations.  Since my feelings in this area often trick me, I will go with what I know, and what I know about hope I have found in the following verses:

Psalm 31:24: “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”sun-622740_1280

Psalm 42:5: “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”anchor-57748_1280

This is one I love Jeremiah 29:11: ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Yesterday I actively hoped instead of worried about a problem.  I felt my heart grow lighter.  I came to the conclusion that since neither hoping or worrying changes the outcome of a situation in reality, I might as well hope.  Like any other skill, I have to practice it.

Scripture Saturdays

fire-2116361_1280Why Should Christians Hope?

I said last week when I gave up worrying last Lent that I didn’t think to put something in it’s place.  I know now I need to hope.

In The Case For Hope, author Lee Strobel states the Bible mentions hope 97 times in the Old Testament and “83 in the New Testament”.  It’s clear God expects his people to be hopeful.  Why?  Because He is the ultimate hope.  Hoping in Him give us perfect love, complete forgiveness of our sins, and the joy of living with Him forever.  And in Jesus we have the example of what a person can be in a relationship with God.  We can’t be perfect like Jesus, but we have the hope God will change us to be more and more like His son.

So why do I have such a hard time hoping?

I think it’s a combination of physical wiring and and mental habit.  In the next week, I will try to rein in my my wild worries with a few strategies.  My focus will be Hebrews 13:6 “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”  I will also do try the following:

Imagine a positive outcome for a negative one.  I need to break my automatic response of imagining the worse.  That’s helpful when plotting fiction, but it’s a lousy way to live my life.

Become objective.  When I consider my worries, I will judge how likely they are to become reality, based on my past experiences.

I am reminded of a quote attributed to Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

 

 

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