How do you define hope? You can’t see it, taste it, touch it, smell it, or hear it. It’s abstract and yet necessary. What is hope? Hope is wanting something good to happen and waiting to see if it happens. Hope is like a wish, something you desire to come true. Hope is a gift; in Jeremiah 29:11 we see that the LORD “plans to give you hope.” He is gifting you with it and when you are presented with a gift, you have the choice whether or not to accept it. So lastly, hope is a choice. It can be easy to sit and think about all the hard things in life, but we can choose to focus on things that will come in the future.
Let’s look at a few ways that we can choose to be hopeful in our day-to-day lives through the acrostic HOPE:
The “H” in HOPE stands for help. God can help you and you can help others. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Anytime you have a problem, big or small, God is always there to help you. Choose to ask for His help and in turn, we can choose to help others. Philippians 2:4 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” It’s not all about us. Yes, God wants to and will helps us, but he also calls us to help others too. Sharing, listening, working together, and offering encouraging words are just a few ways we can get started. So, what do you need God’s help with? What can you do to help someone else?
The “O” in HOPE stands for optimism. If we want to have hope, we can choose to have an optimistic outlook on life. Now, what is optimism? Optimism is just a fancy word for staying positive. When you say you are choosing optimism, you are choosing to have a positive outlook on life, a good attitude. Optimism says, “I’m going to expect good things to come in the future, not bad things.” Being optimistic doesn’t mean bad things will never happen. Being optimistic means that even when hard things come your way, you can work through the challenges and know that it won’t last forever. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are thrown into jail for sharing their faith. Nevertheless, they choose hope and optimism by praying and singing praises to God despite their current circumstances. When something doesn’t go your way, how do you respond? What thoughts do you think? What actions do you take? Charles Swindoll that says this, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.”
The “P” in HOPE stands for purpose. God has a purpose for you. What does purpose have to do with hope? Sometimes when we go through hard situations in life, we start to wonder, “What’s the point?” But when we have purpose, difficult and painful things look brighter because we know there’s a reason. The majority of life is out of our control, but God can bring good from any situation. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” No matter what any of you are facing now or will face in the future, God has a bigger purpose for it and it can be used for good. You have a purpose. Your pain has a purpose.
The “E” in HOPE stands for endure. What does it mean to endure? Endurance is when you have strength and stamina to go a long time without giving up. When you endure, you are holding on and pushing forward towards what is to come. We have to endure an abundance of heartache and strife in this sinful world, but God calls us to endure. We know what Jeremiah 29:11 says, but what about the verse before it? Jeremiah 29:10-11 it says, “10 This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” 70 years of exile?! Today, that’s a lifetime! What God is referring to here is a special kind of endurance. This endurance is all about waiting patiently for something to come while going through something hard in the meantime. It’s not easy, but it’s possible and it’s worth it. Ultimately, we have the hope and assurance of heaven, but to get there, we must endure. You and I can endure, wait patiently, and press on.
Therefore, choose hope. We don’t always know what the future holds but hope looks to what the future could be. Hope lifts us up. It helps us look to the good things in life. Most of all, hope is a choice. Today I challenge you to choose hope. Choose hope in the midst of the hardest circumstances. Help others, stay optimistic, remember there’s a purpose, and endure until the end.
If you’d like to hear more about how to choose hope, check out the HOPE Week of Prayer: