How to Find Hope When Life is Hard
Craig Gurr - Family Pastor
As Christians, we are called to have hope. But what does hope even mean? I think many of us think hope is just a fleeting feeling based on our desires for things to be better. But God’s Word tells us that hope is so much more than that. Here is a quick, biblical definition of hope —
Hope is the confident expectation that God will deliver on all of his promises.
So if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, does that mean that you can have hope at all times? Not just in times of triumph and joy, but even in times of crisis and sadness? The quick answer is yes, you can have a strong sense of hope at all times if you trust Jesus.
However, if you’ve walked with Jesus for any length of time, you’ll know that your sense of hope ebbs and flows. Sometimes it seems so easy to have hope and at other times, it seems like hope is so far off in the distance that it causes you to drift further into hurt and despair. Why is this the case? And is there anything we can do to change this? How do we find hope even when life is hard?
We Lose Hope When We Lose Our Focus
Many of us need hope the most when we’re going through our hardest circumstances… but it’s in our hardest circumstances when hope seems the hardest to come by. And that’s because we focus so heavily on the difficult thing we’re going through that we lose sight of God and all that He promises us. As the Family Pastor at Harvest, I have spent a lot of time with people that are going through very difficult circumstances and the question I ask all of them is this — “Where is your focus?”
That’s because our natural inclination is to focus on the pain and the hurt that we are experiencing in the middle of the trial. And when we do that, we are driven by our feelings. And listen — feelings aren’t bad! But when we allow them to dictate our behavior because we’ve lost our focus, they will create a barrier between us and the hope that God provides. We will begin to see the trial as an obstacle to our happiness rather than an opportunity to glorify God and find hope in the moment.
Hope Hides in the Unlikeliest of Places
Romans 5:2-6 is essential in helping us stay focused on what matters and find the hope that we’re looking for. The Apostle Paul writes, “Through [Jesus] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings…”
Everyone can agree that it’s pretty easy to rejoice in something like “the hope of the glory of God” — but in “sufferings”? How do we do that? Well, we rejoice in our sufferings not because they’re pleasant, but because of what they produce. Look at what the rest of this passage says, “…we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
We lose focus because we want the suffering in our lives to end. We fixate on the trial and we think God is ignoring us. We grow frustrated and we lose hope because somewhere along the line, we began to believe that if our trust was in Jesus, he would always deliver us from hardship and suffering.
And while God can deliver us from our hardest circumstances, we know that he is always using them for our good. And we can rejoice in that promise! We are called to rejoice in the most difficult things we go through because God promises to use them in our lives to produce endurance, character, and — most importantly — hope!
Where Is Your Focus?
How is one able to feel peace and have hope during the most difficult of times? To get that answer, you have to answer the other question I posed earlier — where is your focus? If your focus is on the crisis, then you will grow in despair and hopelessness. However, if your focus is on the character of God and what he promises, there will be hope. And think about it — if God can sustain you and give you hope even in the worst of times, imagine the overwhelming joy and sense of hope you will feel in the best of times?