By Jennifer Heeren, Crosswalk.com
It’s not just our physical health that is in danger from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also putting a strain on our mental health. Worry comes at us in a multitude of ways from trying not to get sick, taking precautions to not infect someone else, changes in our daily routines, and financial pressures.
All of this is compounded by having less opportunities for social interaction. We need other people more than we realize. We were created for connection. Fear, sadness, and loneliness can very easily lead to hopelessness.
However, it is possible to circumvent these negative feelings and stop them before they go too far. Remember to guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23). Fight every bit of hardness and bitterness that tries to enter into your heart.
Stay soft, teachable, and humble by reading the Bible regularly. And always remember that no matter what circumstances happen to you, God can remain the strength of your heart forever.
Here are eight truths I need to remember when hopelessness has a hold on me.
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1. Remember God’s Faithfulness
Reflect on your past and remember what God has already brought you through. If you are in Christ, God has brought you up out of a horrible pit. For some Christians, this was an empty, lonely pit in their own mind. For others, it was a literal pit of a culmination of bad life decisions.
Either way, He has already set your feet upon the rock and brought you home from a whirlwind of despair. That’s God’s specialty—He does that all of the time!
Give thanks for God’s faithfulness. Gratitude is based on memory. Don’t forget His help and protection in the past. Don’t forget His forgiveness. He heals your physical body. He pours out His lovingkindness and His tender mercies. He answers prayer, sometimes with a yes and sometimes with a no, but always for your good.
He is longsuffering—not willing that anyone should perish. He doesn’t deal with us as our sins deserve. He sent His Son to take care of that.
2. Remember You Are a New Creation in Christ
His mercies are new every morning. God made your life new after you believed. This is why it’s called being born again. Each and every day after that can hold something new within it. A new circumstance. A new perspective. A new lesson. A new way to serve Him.
Every day we can trust that God is doing new things, making pathways through the wilderness, and creating rivers in dry wasteland (Isaiah 43:19).
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3. Remember the Cross
Although you will go through many trials and tribulations, they are far less than what He went through for you. And because He went through all of that, we can have peace when we go through various problems—because He overcame the world and willingly offers us His strength.
Trials have a purpose so learn from them and thrive in spite of them.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. – 1 Peter 1:6-7
4. Remember Humility
Because everything in your life isn’t about you. Actually none of it is solely about you. It’s all a chapter in the much bigger picture of God’s story. If you listen, obey, and serve Him, your chapter will be fulfilling for you, too.
I know I tend to question God about His sovereignty in my life. I don’t always do it obviously but I do grumble, complain, and theorize about how He should run my life. Until I remember that He knows best and doesn’t need my input.
But even though He doesn’t need my small ideas, in His wonderful mercy, He does take time to listen to them. He created me and all of the intricate workings of my body. Does He need any help in orchestrating my life? He knows best and can see how every decision affects not only my future but everyone’s future that is around me.
Worship should be my response to God every single day. The more I bring my thoughts in line with His thoughts, the more I will recognize what He is doing in my life and the world. Worship keeps my mind off me. After all, God’s thoughts are far above my thoughts.
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5. Remember God Can Use Trials for Good
It’s good to remember that even though people do me harm, whether unknowingly or knowingly, God can use it for good, even if they meant it for evil (Genesis 50:20). I can trust that God is with me even in the midst of suffering. Without the bad circumstances, I would never learn patient endurance, which helps me to see things from a similar viewpoint as God.
There are three enemies of every believer: the world, the flesh, and the devil. But there are also three weapons God has made available to us: the Holy Spirit, the renewed nature, and the Word of God. We can use these three weapons to resist the devil and he will flee from us. Nothing I can ever go through can separate me from the love of Christ.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-39
6. Remember to Share the Hope You Have Discovered
As good as hope feels, it is greatly increased when we share it with others. Be a doer of God’s Word, not just a hearer (James 1:22).
We need to show—in tangible ways to other people—the hope that is within us. Acts of love and kindness speak wonders, especially to a world full of lost people. Most people sit up and take notice when love is demonstrated, especially when it’s shown sacrificially.
The good that God puts in our hearts to do needs to be done. Take steps forward and God will meet you and help you. In Joshua 3, it wasn’t until the priests stepped into the edge of the water that the waters of the Jordan parted. Sometimes we can be so fearful that we refuse to step forward and may even press the brake and prevent God from using us.
The more you show other people hope, the more hope you will feel in your own heart. You have been called to be a blessing. Each day, ask God, “What would You have me to do today?” And then say, “Lord, help me to live boldly today for the things that matter to You.”
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7. Remember to Hang in There
No matter how long the winter feels, spring inevitably comes. The seasons show that God renews the earth every year. And even more importantly, He renews us in the same way when we let Him. He creates in us a clean heart and a clean slate on which to write the rest of our days. He gives us a new hope and a steadfast spirit so we can continue on that new path (Psalm 51:10).
This renewal of the heart and soul is not a one-time thing. We are born again once, but we need to renew our minds over and over again. Just like springtime happens every year, we need to regularly surrender our will to Christ’s.
The world’s ways and our own selfishness always try to seep back in. This continual surrender is painful, but the feeling of eternal hope and peace is worth the temporary sting of the flesh.
The Holy Spirit continually prompts us to press on, to never give up, and to surrender anew again.
8. Remember That the Ultimate Hope Is beyond This Lifetime
Although wonderful things can and will happen to us in this life, ultimately not all of the promises of God will be fulfilled in the here and now. Even when someone’s earthly life is 100 or more years long, that is just a blip compared to eternity.
Ultimate hope won’t be realized in this life. There is joy everlasting still to come. When we die believing in Christ, we are immediately ushered into the Lord’s presence, with its fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
One day we will all join hands and voices with the saints of the past, present, and future and sing, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8).
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