“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
We’re still old fashioned enough at our house to get a Sunday newspaper delivered. This time of year, one predicably sees certain things advertised: vitamins, weight loss supplements, smoking cessation aids, and containers for organizing stuff. These are clear signs that the New Year is almost upon us, and, consequently, the inevitable resolutions.
Perhaps you are one who perennially makes such resolutions to lose weight, eat more healthfully, exercise more, or get organized. Perhaps you also, year after year, fall short of accomplishing your goal. So perhaps you have joined the ranks of folks who purposely don’t make resolutions anymore because they’re tired of that sense of failure: they conclude that it’s better to just adapt to the status quo.
The Bible verse above speaks of hope; a hope which God himself is the Author of, for he is called: “The God of hope…”. Discouragement, that failure to press on, to keep going, is the opposite of hope, for the root meaning of discouragement is “to lose heart”.
If I am experiencing discouragement, I might ask myself what, truly, is energizing and sustaining my hope? If the source of my hope is primarily in myself and the decision of my will to improve myself, eventually I might become weary and run out of steam.
And while wanting to be healthier, or look better, or live a more functional life are all good motivations, they might not be sufficient for sustaining hope over the long haul. At some point, I might be tempted to just give up when things are tough.
God himself wants to be both the source and the object of my hope. As the verse above says, when I truly believe what God has promised to me in his Word, I can experience joy and peace, for I know that I am loved, totally and generously.
As I draw on the encouragement (literally, to make courageous ) of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, I can look squarely at my stumbles and failures, humbly pick myself up, and renew my hope in a God who Himself wants me to go on, leaning on His strength which is always available for me.
Learning to let ourselves be carried by God is the process of learning trust; that is, practicing living as if God will sustain me, in order to find that He indeed does sustain me! This might be the key to a better New Year.