Friday, May 03, 2019

The Ingredients of Hope

"Everything that is done in the world is done by hope." Martin Luther
Are you stuck? You just can't seem to make progress on some project or goal? Research suggests that boosting your level of hope could help. Scientific studies have concluded that the most important predictor of race performance is an athlete's degree of hopefulness!*
Researchers have proposed that there are two components to being hopeful: a capacity to find alternate pathways to a goal and a sense of being able to act on them. Highly hopeful people, therefore, are able to think flexibly and change course when faced with obstacles, which helps them sustain their effort.
Consider the goal toward which you've had trouble making progress. Define it as specifically as you can. Ensure that it is attainable and measurable. Prayerfully consider all the possible routes to getting there, even the ones that seem to be a stretch. Sometimes those that seem the most unrealistic can give new perspective on a situation and ultimately lead to a solution. Which approaches are the most attractive? Which will help you develop your passions and honor those things you value most? What are your God-given strengths that will help you move forward? What has motivated you to "climb mountains" in the past; how can you use this to make progress now?
Sins like stubbornness or sloth can get in the way. Fear of failure often causes paralysis of action. I suggest that there is a third ingredient to hope: confidence in the outcome. As a Christian, you know that through Christ the victory over sin, death and devil is yours! You can rest assured that the ultimate result of your projects will be good, even though they may not turn out as you had planned. God has promised to guide those who trust His lead (Proverbs 3:6) and to work out the details (Romans 8: 28). When you are grieved by failure, it is comforting to remember that those in Jesus are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) and that for them there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1).
On your own, it can be difficult to see the options that lie before you and to choose the best among them. You may not recognize the skills and talents with which you've been blessed or how to creatively employ them. With the help of God, a trusted partner can help you gain insight into how you have been equipped for service in this world. The right questions can help you, as much as is possible for a saint who is still a sinner, to choose where to invest your time, talents and treasure and to brainstorm unique solutions to the challenges you face. Objective feedback, encouragement and accountability can give you motivation and help you bear the crosses that will come along the way by bringing to memory the promises of our Lord.
May God's calling, provision and promises make you truly hopeful for the future!

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