What you plant and nurture grows. It holds true in the natural realm, so also the spiritual. If you want to increase in hope, take action and incorporate some of these practices in your life:
1. Fill your mind with Scripture.
Romans 15:4 says that through the encouragement of Scripture, we have hope. Reflecting on Scriptures about God’s kindness and faithfulness will cause hope to increase, and so will meditating on Scriptural promises that specifically pertain to your situation. Look for what the Word says about the circumstance you find yourself in. Make these Scriptures personal and intimate, as God intended them, by adding your name and applying it to your life. Write down the living Word and put it on your mirror, your car dashboard, or any place you will see it often. As we saturate our minds with the Word, hope will increase in our souls.
2. Ask for empowerment from the Holy Spirit to walk in hope.
Pray as Paul did for “the God of hope [to] fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Ask for the filling of the Spirit and supernatural grace to walk in hope. Sometimes all we can do cry out for help and trust that God will breathe on our emotions and bring hope. By His grace, He gives us hope (2 Thessalonians 2:16).
3. Choose hope.
We have a choice to hope or give up. Will you guard your heart because of past hurts or disappointments? Or will you embrace the truth revealed by God in His word and what that truth means for your life? 1 Peter 1:13 tells us to set our hope—it’s a an active determination on our parts. And Hebrews 10:23 echoes this, instructing us to “hold fast to the confession of hope without wavering.”
4. Speak hope-filled words.
Just as what we hear from others impacts us, what we speak to ourselves also influences the course of our souls (James 3 compares the tongue to a bit on a horse or a rudder on a ship, both of which determine the path taken). Just because you speak something doesn’t mean it automatically comes to pass, but bringing our words into alignment with heaven does steer the course of our souls.
5. Command your soul to hope.
One potent use of our words is to instruct our souls to hope in God. This may feel strange at first, but throughout Scripture we find people declaring to God “my hope is in you.” In Psalms 42 and 43, the psalmist speaks directly to his soul, saying: “why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” We have authority to direct our souls, and we don’t have to fall prey to every emotion, rather we can bring ourselves into alignment with hope.*
6. Keep your heart free from offense and bitterness.
We’re commanded to guard our heart, which is the wellspring of life. Keeping it free of bitterness, anger, and offense plays a key role in this. It’s easy to become offended with God when we don’t understand what’s going on (as if we had the right to do so), but offense chokes out hope and faith. Jesus said, “blessed is the one who is not offended because of me” (Matthew 11:6). The same applies in our relationships with others.
7. Engage with testimonies of God’s goodness.
Read, listen to, and reflect on testimonies of what God has done for others and remember and ponder what He has worked in your own life. We all have stories of His faithfulness, and we’re meant to meditate on them and share them. God instructed the Israelites to set up memorial stones that would serve as prompts to tell of what God did on their behalf (Joshua 4). And Revelation 12 declares that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. When we hear how God has worked in the lives of others and meditate on what He has done on our behalf, it builds hope.
8. Surround yourself with people who speak hope and life.
As you’ve likely experienced, people often cast doubt, speak negative words, and discourage hope, often without realizing it. Many people have surrendered to negative mindsets and speak fear and worry into the circumstances they see in their own lives and the lives of those around them. By no means do I suggest that you cut those people off (after all, many of them may be loved family members or long-standing friends), but simply be mindful of your dialogue with them and be sure to also seek out those who will bring words of hope and truth into your situation.
How do you cultivate hope in your own life? I’d love to hear from you.
*Sometimes underlying physical/chemical issues cause depression or other emotional difficulties that need addressing—and I recommend taking necessary action in those situations—but those cases aside, many times we simply need to take authority over our souls.
Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the Fundamentals of Hope series.