Five Pursuits to Lead You Out of Chronic Hopelessness
- Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Deanna Favre & Shane Stanford's recent book, The Cure for the Chronic Life: Overcoming the Hopelessness that Holds You Back, (Abingdon Press, 2010).
Dealing with difficult situations that drag on and on - such as long seasons of illness or financial struggles - can leave you feeling chronically hopeless. You're surviving, but you're not thriving. You spend most of your time and energy enduring whatever tough circumstances life has thrown at you, which leaves you so depleted that you can't pursue God's purposes for your life.
God has a better life in mind for you: one that's filled with hope. Here's how you can overcome chronic hopelessness and start enjoying the life God wants you to live, even when your circumstances don't change:
Pursue compassion. You need to move out of your own way to find hope by inviting God to give you compassion for others that will broaden your perspective on life. Rather than being preoccupied with your own troubles, ask God to help you notice other people's troubles and to care about what they're going through. Pray for the ability to break free of distractions and pay attention to what matters most in life: loving God and others. Ask God to give you the faith and courage you need to follow where He leads you and to love people in need unconditionally so you can become a part of His redemptive work in their lives and help make the world a better place. Get to know the people who live near you and those who work with you. Ask them questions about their lives, and listen carefully. When they share specific needs with you, pray for them and help them in whatever practical ways God leads. Pray for God to help you see His reflection in the faces of the people you meet, and to offer compassion as an act of worship rather than just a duty.
Pursue understanding. Chronic hopelessness limits your thinking so that you can't accurately understand how to see yourself, God, and other people. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so you can think healthy thoughts that will lead to healthy attitudes and actions that change your life for the better. Read the Bible often, and study it and meditate on it as well. Keep a worship journal in which you record your encounters with God in worship and what you've learned about Him as a result. Pray daily for God to give you more wisdom to make the right decisions in life - decisions that will help you fulfill God's purposes for your life. Make sure that you're devoting your time and energy to activities that will truly help you fulfill those purposes. Every day, surrender your own agenda and follow God's guidance so you can do His will, which will bring fresh hope into your life.
Pursue response. When you respond to God's love, His hope floods your soul and flushes out the hopelessness that was there before. You go from being a spectator in the world who's concerned only about your own circumstances to one who engages in the world by actively responding to its needs and working to make it a better place. Invite God to use your life to change the world for the better in powerful ways. Pray for the wisdom you need to discern specific ways that God wants you to serve. Be bold about joining God in the work He leads you to undertake to serve others. Respond to God's love for you by letting His love flow through you to other people. Forgive people who have hurt or offended you and so what you can to reconcile with them. Express your appreciation to people who have helped you. Let people know how much you love them, through both words and actions.
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