Leo Tolstoy once wrote: ‘I felt that what I was standing on had given way, that I had no foundation to stand on and that which I lived by no longer existed and that I had nothing to live by.’
I don’t know how hopeful you feel today, but for me it seems a changeable notion that fluctuates throughout the day as well as each week. It’s influenced by all sorts of things – thoughts, conversations, news, problems, hormones, tasks I don’t want to do or am worried about, what’s happening with my family and friends, and often, how tired I am.
Last week I was expecting to race towards the potential of 2022 with full excitement and energy, and instead I heard my bed calling and opted for watching a lot of TV.
For me, it can feel a bit like a ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ level where you can be happily jogging along enjoying the scenery and collecting useful things, when all of a sudden you hear the music signally a ‘baddie’, and an upcoming fight.
It’s also interesting to note how the ground shifts at different rates after one of these ‘episodes’.
Sometimes the floor sucks you down and you stay there a long long time with hope nowhere near the horizon. Other times, something springs up and catapults you back to joy in an instant.
Will the fog disappear along with the confusion and all the unknowns that previously reigned, or will my world implode and I’ll just sit stunned for a while wondering how the heck I hit the floor so hard?
It’s the unpredictability and how out of control the change feels that I think takes away our hope, because what if we try really hard and do all the ‘right’ things and we get blindsided by something again? What if I’m doing well for a long time and something creeps up on me and I feel like Im back at square one, or even minus one?
In their book ‘Dream Culture: bringing dreams to life’, Andy and Janine Mason write:
‘The antidote to discouragement is courage. The antidote to disillusionment is illumination. The remedy to disappointment is to remember that you are appointed’
So how do we find our courage, our illumination and our appointment?
Psalms 33:4 says, “The Word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness.”
In every changing season, the voice of God is a constant source of truth. This is what we can cling to in those moments of hopelessness. God is constant. God is faithful. God is our strength. God has the answers.
Now that’s all very well when we are on a ‘good’ day, when there are glimpses of optimism, but what about when it all seems out of our grasp and there is no energy left to search for how we hold on? At that point, I wonder if you need someone else to be your ‘hope holder.’
Romans 15: 13 says ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ That will always be true.
But if you are in a season where this doesn’t ring, why not ask someone you trust to be the person who embodies and holds that hope for you? They can be the one who lifts their head up and smiles at what the future is going to bring. Gradually you will get there too, but in the meantime, they can pray when you cannot pray. They can hope when you cannot hope.
If you can’t think of someone currently in your life who could do this then there’s a chance that a Christian coach or therapist could do that for you – it might take a couple of tries to find the right one but it’s worth persevering.
As a Christian coach myself, the invitation is there if you want to see if I’m a suitable fit for you and your journey.
Maybe you can go straight to God with this even though yesterday you felt you couldn’t. He is waiting with arms open wide to comfort you and love you.
There won’t be a telling off or an argument or unrealistic expectations of what you are able to do. He knows you better than anyone. He is your healer, your banner of peace and your provider. There is nothing He cannot do. He is our ultimate hope holder. Who better to turn to when everything around us is in pieces?
Maybe all this talk of courage and having an ‘appointment’ is what caused your hope to disappear in the first place.
I want you to know that you are seen and loved no matter how much you try and fail, no matter how much you achieve or don’t achieve and that your purpose on this earth is not something overwhelming or not suited to you. If that’s how it’s felt in the past then I can guarantee you that you don’t know what it really is yet, and that’s ok too!
You may be on the floor unable to take a step towards anything, without the energy to figure out where hope is or ever was. Why not see if you can tell God something new today? Be the most honest with Him that you’ve ever been. Ask Him something and expect a reply.
You may be able to just lift your eyes up and meet His gaze, or someone elses’ who you know is key to things improving. Tell them something you need and decide one tiny thing that you can be in charge of trying this week.
Change is often spoken about in a negative way but seeing things change can be the most exciting, energizing experience you have. It’s ok to be the instigator of this whilst still leaning on others and God while it starts to happen.
You may be about to stand up and hope again. Everything I’ve said above is still true for you - you need God and you need others.
Hope is not something we muster up or find after a big scavenger hunt, but something that is given to us from God. Keep your eyes on Him even when His hope is coming to you through other people.
And let me know what you think about this concept of ‘hope holding.’ This isn’t a scientific paper or a news report written as fact, but an invitation to a discussion about how we can improve things, an invitation to reach out and be brave enough to say you need help and a place to be curious about how we got here and what our next steps are.
Let’s start being more real, more vulnerable and more outspoken about how tough everything can be but how incredibly unchanging and understanding God is throughout it all.
You can connect with Catherine on:
If you enjoyed Catherine’s post you can read more here
Purchase your HEARTS OF HOPE sweatshirt and support the work of FEED THE HUNGRY and A21 here