Learn 5 Ways You Can Lose Hope

5 Ways to Lose Hope

It’s true; sometimes life can be hard. At times, it can feel like there is nothing we can do to change our circumstances. It’s in those moments we can’t lose hope.

 

As you walk into our office at The Link of Cullman County, you will find yourself confronted with four large letters strategically placed on a pallet-designed counter top.

In moments you will determine whether you can accept the meaning of those four letters, or if your perception of your situation keeps you from believing their truth.

The letters in and of themselves, hold little power.

But when they are combined, they quadruple in strength and form the word “HOPE.”

 

HOPE DESK
The “Hope Desk” at The Community Place, home of The Link of Cullman County.

 

For some who find themselves in the midst of chaos, destruction, and crisis this word can either settle their soul or be cause for an accusation.

What does it mean to have hope?

By definition, hope is to cherish a desire with anticipation; to want something to happen or be true.

There can be much excitement and joy in hoping for something new, and yet, at the same time, hope can feel defeating, frustrating, or some times far-reaching when things don’t seem to be going the way you think they should.

But sometimes we hijack ourselves by believing hope does not exist. Here are five ways we can lose hope:

  1. Give up
    This can seem like the most appealing option at times. If we just give up and no longer believe hope exists, then we won’t get our feelings hurt or our dreams crushed.
  2. Stop trusting God
    When people hurt us, repeatedly, it’s a standard defense mechanism to stop trusting them. There are times when they may need to earn our trust back. But God is who He says He is and never changes. If we stop trusting Him, we will quickly lose hope.
  3. Place our faith in people
    People will fail us daily. If we put our confidence in them, it won’t take long before we lose all hope in humanity.
  4. Blame everyone else for our circumstances
    Pointing our finger at everyone around us will keep us feeling like we are the victim of our circumstances. So go ahead and blame everyone else and watch hope fly out the window.
  5. Rely on yourself
    The quickest way to lose hope is to rely on your wisdom, your strength, and your own experiences. If you never allow anyone else, including God, to help you, hope will elude you.

Those may seem like some great options if feeling sad, lonely, and depressed sound attractive. However, if you prefer to experience some joy in this life, allow me to suggest some alternatives.

Here are some ways you can find hope when you feel hopeless.

Rebuke the lie that says “Hope is dead.”
Just last week I had a situation happen to me where I felt stuck, lost, defeated…even heart sick. There seemed to be no glimmer of hope. It wasn’t until I realized my emotions were ruling my decisions that I could recognize the lies.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Pr 12:15

The truth was hope had been there the whole time. This perspective gave me clarity, and I felt my attitude change, which helped me have hope in my situation, again.

Consider enlisting support
Believing you don’t have any hope feels lonely. Sometimes we need others to help us get out of our rut. Friends or family member can help you identify your current state of mind. 1 Thessalonians 5:11a tells us, “…encourage each other and build each other up…” Seek out those people in your life that encourage you. If you don’t have people like that, visit us at The Link of Cullman County. We have someone on staff called “Lead Encourager.” It is her job to encourage anyone who comes in feeling hopeless to help them set goals so they can move forward.

Get ready to fight
Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12, HCSB) Let this statement not fool you, just because our battles are against the spiritual realm, doesn’t mean hopelessness can’t feel just as powerful as a bully in real life. Especially when the circumstances you are facing seem dire. One of the most beneficial ways to overcome losing hope is by putting on your armor of God (see Ephesians 6:13-17).

On days when hope feels like it will slip away you'll have to decide, how badly do you want it?

Let’s encourage each other. What are some of the ways that you can suggest to someone who is struggling with hope to stand firm and trust the Lord?

Dawn M Owens, Executive Director of The Link of Cullman County

Dawn Owens is the Founder/Executive Director of The Link of Cullman County, a blogger, speaker, and a lover of lattes in coffeehouses that have deep seats and warm faces. She also enjoys encouraging others to dream big for the kingdom of God. As a wife and mother to gingers, she finds herself staying on her toes, outnumbered by the men in her life. In her down time, she is either reading a good book or watching historical period shows, dreaming of where she might travel to next.You can find Dawn on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Feeling Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

I cannot stand being uncomfortable.

I don’t like being too hot. I can’t stand it when I am so cold I am shivering.  New places can stretch me when I don’t know anyone because I feel awkward, shy, and vulnerable.

It’s the worst.

But sometimes being uncomfortable can be good for us. In fact, I’ve learned coupling the uncomfortable with obedience to God and found it’s the perfect intersection for God to produce a blessing.

Allow me a moment to tell you a story about a prophet and a woman. You can find these stories in 2 Kings 4:8-37, 8:1-6 .

There was a prophet in Israel named Elisha. He was known to be a man of God who did whatever God told him to do. A well off Shunammite woman (they never mention her name) and her husband, host him at their home for several meals, and then decided to offer him a place to stay. She redid a room in her home specifically for him. Elisha was very touched by the woman and asked if he could bless her for her goodness to him. She waved off his request and told him, she basically had all she needed. Elisha asks his servant to find out how he can bless her and his servant lets him know she wishes to have a son, even though her husband is old. But that is exactly what Elisha does. He tells her she will have a son, by this time next year. (v.16) She objects to his words and gets angry that he would even suggest such a thing.

Nine months later, she gives birth to a son. All is well until the son gets sick and dies in the father’s arms. They lay the son in a bed and she goes to get Elisha, to demand he do something about it, as he had promised her a son. She was quite upset Elisha’s promise did not come with a life-long guarantee. Long story short, (too late) he returns prays, asks God to revive her son, lays on top of him 3 times (okay, lets all admit that is a bit weird), and he lives.

But that is just the back-story. However, you needed to know that part to get to this part.

Years later there is a famine in the land. Elisha returns to warn her and tell her to move. And so, she does. She moves her family to a far off land for 7 years while her people go through the famine. When she is told it is time to return she does so and goes to the king to retrieve her land back. When she returned the King assigns her an official to assist and he blesses her by returning her home and land back to her.

Now if you are starting to scratch your head and think, “Dawn, you have lost it! What does any of this have to do with being uncomfortable?” Stick with me and we’ll get there in a moment.

Check out what this no named, only described by her ethnicity, woman does as we began our story. She opens up her home to a prophet. She does not know him; not really. She and her husband only had a few meals with him. But then she takes her hospitality a step further by setting up a room for him and giving it to him for as long as he needs it.

Is there anything in that scenario that makes you feel uncomfortable? Um…yeah!

Now I am not suggesting to you to bring strange men into your home, but it does beckon us to wonder, if her faithfulness in the uncomfortable here did not bring her the blessing later?

What we must remind ourselves of when we read these stories from the Bible is that the people who were living them out never knew what their outcomes would be. Our Shunammite friend had no idea she was going to receive the blessing of a child, one she never thought she could ever have…in fact, she was so sure of it that she couldn’t even dare to ask for fear for fear of his answer being “No.”

Can you relate to that? Can you relate to the desire of wanting something so bad and for so long you don’t even dare mention it anymore because it brings up all those feelings? All those emotions you may not be able to control should someone mention that “something”? That one thing you can’t have?

I get the sense that is exactly where our Shunammite woman was in this story. Willing to serve her God anyway she could, even to the point of making her home a refuge for a strange, man of God. Even if it meant getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.BluewithWhite Become uncomfortable emotionally

She was willing to become that uncomfortable in the physical…but God wanted to take her a bit further to become uncomfortable emotionally and spiritually with Him.

And when she obeyed look at what it yielded her—blessing—and in the form of a son, an heir, a first-born who not only carries on the name of the family but now will also carry on the testimony of faith in a God who moves us into the uncomfortable.

Then, when she was told to move away for seven years, in the face of famine, she had already learned the blessing of obedience, even when it is uncomfortable. In her case even if it meant moving her family away temporarily to the land of the Philistines. (2 Kings 8:1) In case the name Philistine isn’t familiar to you, the Philistines were the ones the Israelites battled in the famous story of David and Goliath. Goliath was a Philistine.

It doesn’t say why they chose to move to the land of their sworn enemy, but they did.

And God blessed them.

He blessed them with the return of their land and a king who honored them as his people by paying back all that they had lost. You see he did not have to do that. He did not have to return any of it to them. But it just so happens that the king was talking just that day to Elisha’s servant and he was telling him the story about a Shunammite woman whose son was brought back to life by Elisha.

And in walks the woman, seeking her land back.

“Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.” (2 Kings 8:3-6)

And just like that God does yet another miracle in her life. Out of an act of obedience, and an uncomfortable one at that.

I don’t love becoming uncomfortable. But I have learned over time through a seven hour move from Ohio, a house that wouldn’t sell up north for seven years, surgeries that have permanently disabled parts of my body, unemployment, and chronic health issues that regardless of how uncomfortable I am, if I am willing to obey God, I will see blessings. I have learned to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Because I know the blessing will come…sometimes financial, but more often spiritual blessings like new gained freedom, joy that surpasses understanding, learning mercy instead of justice, and being used to steward a vision bigger than I could have dreamed on my own.

Seek God, while you are uncomfortable. You just never know, when He’ll use it for your blessing.

What about you? Can you relate to the Shunammite woman in your desires? Have you seen times your willingness to be uncomfortable made it possible to see the blessing?

Want to hear more of Leslie’s story? Listen to her podcast. 

Share below and let’s talk more about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

How to Tend to the Roots

For two and a half years, I struggled with a chronic condition. Well, not just one condition, it was believed I had several. Some of them had names, some of them did not. Although I went from one doctor to the next, I was told, with frequency, you are an anomaly and we don’t have any idea what is wrong with you.

Many times their solution was to take this pill, or that pill or to go see this doctor or that doctor. They’d suggest not to do this anymore or try to see if this or that works. But most of the time it felt to me like the doctors I was seeing were just taking a shot in the dark. Hoping they could give me something to help the symptoms. But not a single one of them could figure out the root cause.

Until one day, I listened to a friend and took a chance on a naturopathic doctor. I went into it thinking, “Why not, what could be the worse thing that happens?” For two years, all I have done is gone from doctor to doctor. Same answers. Same results. No hope.

I really felt like the women with the blood issue. Do you know her? She is in several of the gospels, but we’ll go to Luke 8:42-48 to hear her story.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Me and the woman at the well, are so much alike. I can totally relate to her and what it feels like to not be able to find the right person to heal you. Although mine did not last twelve years, Praise God, it did at times feel like it. I’d go through times where I felt like I was experiencing joy even in the midst of my struggle. Other times I found myself bitter and frustrated, constantly complaining in my head. I wrote about that here. I asked God to search my heart and reveal any sin issue I may have which was causing the sickness. I asked people to pray and lay hands on me for healing. I was anointed with oil. I spent time with God every morning. But never the less, the illnesses never left me and I went on in my pain.

On many occasions, I asked God, “I have faith like the woman with the blood issue and I am reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, why won’t you heal me?”

Can you relate? I wonder what you have in your heart, in your body, or going on in your life that you are seeking people or symptoms to provide your healing. Do you have a chronic condition like me, that feels like it is never going away? Do you have someone in your life you stay angry at because you can’t or won’t forgive them? Is there an addiction you can’t seem to conquer no matter what you do?

What do you do when you feel like you have done everything you are supposed to do but nothing seems to change?

Sometimes the issue we are trying to deal with can’t be addressed by tending to the symptoms alone. There is no pill to cure us. No special prayer we can pray.

Sometimes it takes addressing the problem from the root cause to open up the door for healing to come.

For me, God addressed the problem in two different ways. First of all, He led me to the naturopathic doctor who tested my food allergies, after months of telling doctors my flair ups happened when I was eating “clean” foods. It was this doctor who finally listened. Low and behold I had food allergies that were causing inflammation in my body. Stay away from the foods; lower the inflammation; healing happens.Perspective Changes everything.

Second of all, spiritually God had walked me through understanding how my “trial” was not a count against me, which was this little lie that had imbedded itself in my brain. In fact, I learned we bring glory to God in our sufferings. (Romans 5:3) So if I am to bring Him glory, should I not be okay in the suffering? Perspective changes everything.

The food healed my inflammation.
The Word healed my heart.

My path to healing may be different than yours. You can’t take what happened to me and just place it nicely into the crevices of your life and it will fit like a glove. Just like we could never take the story of the woman with the blood issue and make it fit perfectly with ours.

There is no one story that fits all, when it comes to healing.

But what I can tell you stands consist in every one of them…is that faith in God and trusting Him has a huge role to play in it.

There was nothing that either of us could do to heal ourselves of the sickness.
There was nothing the doctor’s could do to change our situation.
There was nothing our friends or family could do to make it better.

The only thing we had left was faith. Faith to know God is the Healer–Jehovah Rapha. The faith to believe He will guide our path of healing, in His time, in His way, and through His means.

And when it boils down to it, that’s the root of the issue.

faithforhealing

It’s why Jesus said to so many people that received feeling, “Do you have faith?” or “It is by your faith you have been healed.”

God works in mysterious ways and I do still believe that healing can come instantaneously. But I also believe it’s just as glorifying to Him, just as miraculous, and amazing when He heals us over time. I believe sometimes the healing is even better than the instantaneous, because not only is the recipient healed of their physical ailments, but they receive spiritual blessings of seeing their long-term faith come to fruition.

 

What are you struggling with in your need for healing and addressing it through your symptoms rather than seeking God for the root cause?

 

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

I have been struggling lately. Watching our country destroy itself is never easy to do, especially when you are sitting on the sidelines wishing the whole country would just stop.

If I am honest, a good part of me wants to just stay in my little bubble here in the South and not engage with what is going on with the rest of the world. I want to shut down my Facebook, skip the news, and not talk politics or current news with anyone around me. It feels so much easier to just put it off, than to deal with the strife that is going on right now.

Why?

I feel powerless. I feel powerless to stop people from raging against each other. I feel powerless to be able to speak into the hate. I feel powerless to close the divide.

And the truth is, in and of my own self, I am powerless. Trying to get my voice heard in all this noise is ridiculous.

But there is One voice that can be heard above all of this and it is His voice I want to turn our ears to today. Because when we don’t know what to do, when we don’t know how to respond, and when we feel powerless to affect change, we must turn to the One who knows the Truth and is in full control, regardless of the mess we see around us.

Nehemiah, a prophet in the Old Testament did just that. In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah’s brother and friends visited him to tell Nehemiah that the city he loved, Jerusalem, was still in rubble and the people have not been able to rebuild it.

His response?

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4)

Sure Nehemiah’s first response to what probably felt like a punch in the guy was to sit down and cry. Isn’t that how most of us feel right now about what is going on in this world. We want to just sit down and cry?

But it doesn’t stop there. It says he mourned, he fasted, and he prayed.

What do we do when we see the injustices around us? Do we do as Nehemiah did becoming heartbroken over the state of our communities, mourning, fasting, praying?

No, I think if we are honest with ourselves, we do something more like this: complain, tell our friends what we think, post our opinions on social media, and then check out because it feels so big and we feel powerless to do anything about it. And the world doesn’t change and we become more frustrated, less engaged, and less willing to be apart of the solution.

However, I think we can learn a lot from Nehemiah and his response to the brokenness he saw around him.

Mourn
What does it look like to biblical mourn? Because we know from Nehemiah’s contemporaries, more than likely, Nehemiah ripped his clothes and cried aloud. What about you? Is your heart broken over what is happening to our nation? Our community? Are you concerned over the division? The strife? How are you responding to the news stories we are hearing all over the nation of people rebelling in the streets and burning flags? With anger and aggression? Or have you checked out and become passive, almost numb to it? Nehemiah’s response was so much of the heart of God. It’s exactly what I believe God is experiencing today. Remember we are created in his image ( Genesis 1:27). All of us. Male. Female. White. Black and Brown. Poor. Rich. Inner city and rural. Republican and Democrat. And every thing in between. He created us and as our created it grieves Him to see us destroy each other.

Have you become numb to the stories? Ask God to break your heart for the things that break his. And when He does, then you can do the next step.

Fast
For Nehemiah this more than likely meant going without any food and/or water and through the scripture we can see that it says, “For some days.” Though we have no idea exactly how many. So what about you? Do you fast? Have you ever fasted? Would you be willing to sacrifice physical provisions for your body to see true change come about in our country? Our cities? Our communities? What are you willing to give up to see God move?

Again, I ask you to seek God for your fast. Do you stop reading social media to focus on Him, do you abstain from food or drink?

Pray
Let’s face it. To the issues of this world…we don’t have control. We don’t even really have answers. It may even feel like to you there are no true solutions. But God sees things from a whole different perspective than us. Our prayers can be used by God to give us wisdom to know how to pray. From what we can read in the scripture, it seems as if that is exactly what happened to Nehemiah. His need for God to do something, which he exhibited in his mourning and fasting, led him to be more in tuned with the heart of God so that he could know how to pray.

After he did these things it then shares with us his prayer. His prayer of adoration (Neh 1:5-6a), repentance (Neh 1:6b-7), recalling scriptural truth (Neh1: 8-9), and making his request known (Neh 1:10-11).

And then when it was all done, Nehemiah waited.

Let me say it again, when we don’t know what to do we can learn from Nehemiah and his response to the brokenness around him.

Nehemiah knew he too was powerless.

He had no idea what he was going to do when he first received the news. He didn’t know whether or not God would do anything at all, after all it was the rebelliousness of his people that put them into captivity and destroyed their city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah didn’t know if God would use him in the solution. All he knew was that he was heartbroken over what had become of the city that he loved.

Nehemiah didn’t try to get ahead of God’s timeline, he waited patiently for Him to open the door. And about 4 months later the door opened and the King did something, unheard of. He allowed his cupbearer (Nehemiah)a leave of absence, fully equipped with all the resources he would need, along with some man power, to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the city.

So I ask you today.

Are you heartbroken over your nation?
Your state?
Your community?

Would you be willing to mourn over what is not, fast on behalf of the wrong , pray for what could be, and be willing to wait patiently for the response?

It is in this response we can recognize that we truly have no power to do the things needed to systematically change the brokenness that now divides our country. However, in yielding to God and His plan we can use His power to make a difference in the world around us.

Mourn. Fast. Pray. Wait. It worked for Nehemiah when he didn’t know what to do.

It can also work for you.