stirred, not shaken
Has your HOPE been tousled? Have you been tempted to give up? Give in? Have you let the circumstances and trials of life get you down? Have you lost HOPE that your life could ever change?
Instead of being shaken by the shifting sands and faulty promises of this world, try this:
“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God…” 2 Timothy 1:6
At our baptism we are given three amazing gifts: Faith, Hope and Love. Let's look at HOPE.
What is HOPE?
According to the CCC 1817: Hope is ...placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23
Jesus is He who promised, and He is faithful to deliver.
So how do we stir HOPE into flame so that we do not give in to apathy or despair?
REMEMBER: When we remember the WHY we began something to begin with, it refuels our energy and refocuses our sights on the goal--such as: WHY we married our spouse, WHY we chose to be open to life and have children, or WHY we took the job we presently have. Harken back to the beginning and remember the WHY. The enemy is very good at distracting us. If our ultimate goal is to please God in all that we do and to spend eternity in heaven with Him, all the while helping others along their path as well, we will realize that no matter the road blocks, no matter how insurmountable the odds in the situation we are facing--our HOPE is in the LORD. We trust in His grace to see us through.
PRAY: Our HOPE lies not in ourselves, but in the Lord! When we are tempted to give up for any reason, stop and ask where that feeling is coming from and what fruit that feeling brings. If the feeling is one of despair and the fruit is giving up, quitting or walking out, then you can bet that the feeling did not come from God. Confess to God your frustrations and your needs. Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit to enable you to do all things. He can do what you cannot do in your own strength, like love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable. Only through prayer can we fight back our feelings of hopelessness and through the power of the Holy Spirit conquer the enemy of discouragement. If after seeking wise counsel and prayerful discernment you feel you are to change your situation, then proceed thoughtfully, but it is very unwise to make a major change while in a time of desolation.
LET GO: Yep. Let go. Stop trying to control everything. Allow God to be God. Keep your focus on the MAIN thing, Him. Don’t feel the need to FIX everything and everyone. If we can truly learn to do as Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” Then His peace will come and control our present lives. Personally, the best way I have found to LET GO is to make a visit to the Adoration chapel and refuse to leave until my peace returns. Sometimes it takes quite a while to wrestle my own will and fears to the ground, as I can't do it on my own. I ask Jesus to come and take control of all of me, until the last bit of distrust in His merciful love leaves with a whimper. But when I do this, there is nothing so freeing and HOPE producing as abandoning myself to the providential will of God and trusting in His loving plan for my life.
If you find yourself in a spot where you need professional help to get you to a point of hopefulness--get it! * There are great counselors and resources out there. And as “unique” as you may think you or your situation may be...I would be willing to bet, out of the millions of people on planet earth, there have probably been others suffering similar circumstances that have found answers that can help you as well.
We serve an amazing God! He is HOPE itself. There is nothing too big for Him to handle. Connect with Him. Be filled with Him. And have HOPE!
“And now, LORD, for what do I wait? You are my only hope.” Psalm 39: 8
Help! I need HOPE! I need YOU! I confess, sometimes this world gives me more than I think I can handle. I have disappointments, fears, and anxieties that I know are not from You, and yet You say that You can use those same circumstances that are causing these feelings in me somehow for my good. Help me to trust in that promise and please give me HOPE that I will get through them. I want to thrive, not just survive. By Your grace, give me the blessed assurance that You are in charge and that there is HOPE for redeeming my past, empowering my present and blessing my future. Jesus, I trust in You. Stir in me the fire of HOPE that I may not be greatly shaken.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
*A special thanks to Dr. Ron Smith and Dr. Anita Gadhia-Smith and Fr. John Paul Duran for their inspiration for this blog.