Hope is a noun and a verb. It is what we have, and it is what we do. We who know the Lord already have hope, but we must also choose hope.
I recently did a Bible study on the word hope, and I was amazed at what I found. With 121 verses with this word (and 12 more verses when you add forms of the word), hope is all throughout Scripture. I prepared a Sunday school lesson from the study, and I had to leave out more verses than I could include!
Through my study, I compiled a list of thirteen practical ways we can choose hope.
1. Anchor your hope in God alone. Trials have a way of exposing misplaced hope—in people, circumstances, or expectations. So often, the Lord has had to redirect my hope so that I enjoy His gifts but anchor my hope in Him alone.
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.—Jeremiah 17:5—8
2. Praise God. Hope and praise are inseparably connected. Hope gives us reason to praise, and praise strengthens our hope.
But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.—Psalm 71:14
3. Remember who God is. Jeremiah found hope by “calling to mind” the faithfulness of God. It’s a conscious choice we must make. And it’s a choice that can only renew our hope.
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.—Lamentations 3:21–26
4. Cry out to God. Our weakness attracts God’s attention. Are you overwhelmed? Cry out to your Father, and cry out to Him in faith.
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.—Psalm 34:17–18
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.—Romans 8:15
5. Talk to yourself rather than listening to yourself. This point should have fifteen asterisks by it, for this is one of the strongest messages of Psalms 42–43. Three times in eleven verses, the psalmist counseled his heart, “Hope thou in God.” Sometimes we have to resolutely turn from the disheartening words we speak to ourselves and say, “Self, hope in God. You are going to praise Him!”
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.—Psalm 42:5
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.—Psalm 42:11
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.—Psalm 43:5
6. Spend time in God’s Word. If #5 should have had fifteen asterisks, this point should have eighty-five. Scripture is our source of hope. No wonder we walk for days in darkness if we are not looking in its pages. When I find myself in a season of overwhelmment, I have found carving out extra time to spend in God’s Word immeasurably beneficial. It realigns my perspective and reassures my heart in the promises of my God.
Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.—Psalm 119:49
7. Claim God’s promises. Without faith, God’s promises are not comforting or encouraging. With faith, they bring hope to the darkest situations and the deepest needs.
My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.—Psalm 119:81
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.—Psalm 119:114
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.—Psalm 130:5
8. Exercise faith. This links closely with #7. God brings hope into our hearts through our decision to believe. Perhaps the best example of this is Abraham who “against hope believed in hope” and “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.”
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.—Romans 15:13
Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.—Romans 4:18-21
9. Practice mental discipline. Without a deliberate choice otherwise, we our minds will run disciplined and unrestrained. We must “gird up”—strengthen and discipline—our minds choosing to hope in God.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;—1 Peter 1:13
10. Recognize you can’t see the whole picture. Sometimes our perspective just gets skewed. Sometimes God allows darkness. During these times, we can determine with the songwriter, “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace!”
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.—Romans 8:24-25
11. Be patient. Hope is a commitment—a willingness to let God’s purposes develop over time.
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;—Romans 12:12
12. Press on. Don’t quit! Hope requires endurance. Some parts of the journey are wonderful, others treacherous, and others monotonous. Keep climbing.
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.—Hebrews 11:27
13. Share what God has done for you to encourage the hope of others. Be the person who puts in the encouraging word to another struggler, “Set your hope in God—He’ll always come through.”
That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:—Psalm 78:6–7
Hope is one of God’s greatest gifts. It is also one of our most necessary choices.
“I will hope continually…”—Psalm 71:14
Note: if you would like a copy of the handout I used to teach this lesson (includes blanks for at least one word in each point), you may download it here.