Pursue encouragement.  Encouragement casts out hopelessness from your life by giving you the ability to see the world as God sees it: one possibility at a time in each person's life.  Let go of bitterness that can poison your soul by confessing your disappointments to God and trusting Him to help you move on despite the disappointments you've suffered in the past.  Tell God often how much you love Him, and regularly open your heart to listen to Him and receive His encouragement.  Contact people you know who are currently discouraged, and offer them some encouraging words to help motivate them to move forward with their lives as God leads them.  Help speak up and carry burdens for those who are marginalized in society.  Especially encourage those who are dealing with difficult situations that are similar to what you've gone through; use what you've learned in your own life to point others toward God and the hope that only He can provide.

Pursue wonders rather than worries.  Ask God to help you take the worries that come from chronic hopelessness and give them to Him, trusting Him to help you develop healthy attitudes that correspond to those worries.  Trade meaningless relationships for having genuine affection for other people.  Trade the mental, relational, and emotional garbage that you've accumulated while feeling hopeless for the real meaning in life that God will give you.  Trade misguided priorities that don't reflect true right and wrong for a sense of purpose from God.  Trade the idols that you'd devoted yourself to when feeling hopeless - such as money, a romantic relationship, or your job - for a close relationship with God that empowers you to live with compassion and conviction that's directed in the right places.  Trade vacillating between loneliness and self-sufficiency for loyal commitments that truly enrich your life.  Trade the addictions that you couldn't control when feeling hopeless - such as drinking or gambling - for the ability to manage your energy in healthy ways.  Trade the broken approaches to community that you took when you were feeling hopeless for the healthy relationships that come from living with a selfless perspective on God and other people.

Adapted from The Cure for the Chronic Life: Overcoming the Hopelessness that Holds You Back, copyright 2010 by Deanna Favre and Shane Stanford. Published by Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tn., www.abingdonpress.com
Deanna Favre is an activist and the New York Times best-selling author of Don't Bet Against Me! She is also the wife of NFL legend Brett Favre. A breast cancer survivor, she is the president/CEO of the Favre 4 Hope Foundation, which supports disadvantaged and disabled children and under-insured or uninsured breast cancer patients. 
Shane Stanford is the senior pastor of Gulf Breeze UMC, a 5,000-member church outside of Pensacola, Florida. He travels frequently to share his story and faith as an HIV-positive hemophiliac, and he also currently serves on the planning committee of the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund. Shane is the author of five books, including
The Seven Next Words of Christ; The Eight Blessings; and You Can't Do Everything…So Do Something (all Abingdon Press); When God Disappears: Finding Hope When Your Circumstances Seem Impossible (Regal Books); and A Positive Life: Living with HIV as a Pastor, Husband, and Father (Zondervan). Shane is married to Dr. Pokey Stanford, an associate professor of education at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. They are the parents of three daughters.

Publication date: January 12, 2011