Hopeless couples drive to the end of a road, just on the canyon’s edge. The drive ends with a display of a charming, bright place of retreat. The warmness of the retreat facility seems to mock the cold and fear in their hearts. This was to be a 4 day marital intensive with 4 couples in crisis. 4 couples who’s marriages were hurt and hopeless.
On this cold January night, each couple sat awkwardly near their spouse next to other unknown awkward couples, at a long table, set for the evening meal. A table full of strangers lost in a fog of pain, pretending to be fine with outward social graces, masking hurt hearts.
A questioning, nagging thought…how can hope be found in this place?
The common thread was this self talk of hopelessness and fear. Fear of being judged, fear of being the most messed up couple, fear of failure in an attempt to free this marriage of the pain.
Tension was evident as I entered the room and sat at the end of the table. I was one of two therapists assigned to journey with these couples for the next 4 days, to lead them to a place of hope. My focus, as I sat down, was to pierce through the fog of tension and eat with careful conversation, allowing them to begin to find a place of comfort.
Unwrapping the gift of hope begins on the first night with the first meeting. Leading them from an empty place of hopelessness to the anchored security of hopefulness. A journey that requires trust, an open heart and a desire for healing. Trust follows a confidence in sincere caring love. Myself, as well as the entire staff, consistently show the couples that we care, we love them and then point them to the love of the Father in heaven.
The journey for the couples over these 4 days is not unlike the life journey we must all take, when we choose to live hope(full) – a life filled with hope. This hope should not just be a wishful desire. It should be a wanted expectant reality. It is a possibility as we faithfully open our hearts to the grace, love and peace of God. Faithful to trust and confident in the expectation of his presence. Hope will heal the hurt.
In Psalm 71 David speaks of his trust, confidence and hope.
In you, O Lord, I have put my trust and confidently taken refuge;
Let me never be [a]put to shame. 2 In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
Incline Your ear to me and save me. 3 Be to me a rock of refuge and a sheltering stronghold to which I may continually come; You have given the commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress. 4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked (godless),From the grasp of the unrighteous and ruthless man. 5 For You are my hope;
O Lord God, You are my trust and the source of my confidence from my youth. 6 Upon You have I relied and been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb and You have been my benefactor from that day. My praise is continually of You…..Verse 14 But as for me, I will wait and hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more
a. 71:1 i.e. have my expectations in Your goodness be disappointed.
The word “hope” in both Hebrew and the Greek implies a confident expectation. It is not just a positive attitude. Henri Nouwen says it well:
Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God’s promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.
Living hope(full) changes how we see ourselves, what we value and what we choose to do with our life. Hope gives us joy, peace, comfort, courage and confidence. Hope is the fuel to find healing for the hurt.
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19 NLT
Hope(full) living will require a seeking and understanding of the word of God, resting in God’s grace and a realization of the presences of the Spirit of God.
So prepare your minds for action, be completely sober [in spirit—steadfast, self-disciplined, spiritually and morally alert], fix your hope completely on the grace [of God] that is coming to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1Peter 1:13 AMP
We can find hopefulness in a place of hopelessness by making choices, to control our mindset and strengthen our awareness. Finding hope engages the following:
H eart – In the Old Testament the word heart means; the inner man, mind, will and heart. This includes the breath of a person! Hope(full) living will take a “whole hearted” commitment to carefully examine the hurt, to expel childhood fears and perceptions, then begin to allow the filling of God’s truth in your heart.
O penness – To be hope(full) there must be an openness to allow God’s truth to have access to the heart. To have an open heart as a child that is seeking love. Rather than a hard heart of anger and pride.
P assion – Pursue with passion to be healed of hopelessness. It will take an intentional focus of thinking and effort to experience not only the knowing about God but the knowing of God. Opening the eyes of your heart will allow you to receive God. This will take the energy of a confident passion to proceed with the changes God plants in your heart. You must want to be healed.
E xpectancy – Exciting anticipation is the reality of hope(full) thinking. An open passionate heart will naturally be expectant that hopelessness will not be a permanent reality, but a distant memory of the past.
F aithfullness – A strong assurance and trust in the promises of God’s faithfulness, fully captures the essences of hope. A heart, soul and mind fueled with faith will be open to the voice of God, moving with passion, toward a life expecting the presence of God, craving the fullness of his promises.
U nity – Hope(full) living will be a turning toward God. A hope(full) heart has understanding of the union of God within us – His presences residing in us through the Holy Spirit. Realizing this unity brings a peace that is felt in our soul and evident in our life as we live in this agitated world.
L ove – Divine love changes the individual who responds to change the world. The filling of God’s love in an open, faithful, passionate heart that is constantly seeking to be united with God, causes an overflow of hope spilling it’s light to the world.
(L ook) – Observe, notice, watch, examine your life. See the world through eyes of gratitude to clear the fog of hopelessness. Gratitude fills in hope, hope builds gratitude. A hope(full) life expects and sees the light of God’s provision in the darkest places.
And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the[a]hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the [b]saints (God’s people), Ephesians 1:18 AMP
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired. Isaiah 40:31 AMP
The hopeless couples did choose to become hope filled couples, learning how to live hope(fully) in their marriage. The 4 days were a process of hurting hearts trusting the loving presences of God in that place. Choosing to heal the hurt by opening their hearts, seeing the faithfulness and love of God then pursuing change. Day 1 is known for the weariness, day 4 reveals renewed stronger couples who are more resolved to live hope(fully).
To live hope(full), in any life situation, is God’s desire.
The purpose of this entire web site is to equip others to live hope(full) through anxiety, depression, grief, life transitions, marriage, chronic illness, career losses, and other life struggles and adjustments. The color of the text points to this purpose. Green, the color for scripture, is to signify the growth and progress of our hope. In the Message, Eugene Peterson, writes in Romans 15:13, “May the God of green hope fill you up”. In Africa the color orange signifies “Hope”. Any quote or saying that gives energy to hope I will use the color orange. Color gives highlight to our lives just as the presence of hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises. Romans 15:13 AMP