One of the things that happens to us when we get discouraged is we forget to look back and count our blessings, to stop and remember how good God has been to us. Too often, we put our focus on the future, forgetting that the God of the past is also the God of the future.
In Psalm 77:10-20 we see King David working to regain hope: “And I said, “This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”
When we lose sight of hope, we need to follow the example of David and call to mind the many blessings and provisions of God in times past.
Abraham hoped in God’s promises when it was illogical.
In Genesis, God tells Abraham he will be the father of many nations: “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17: 6-8).
That’s a wonderful promise, except Abraham was in his early nineties when God spoke those words to him. That was a real challenge. Sarah was beyond the age of conception. But Abraham had this promise from God who had proven Himself trustworthy. The promise anchored him in hope. God faithfully fulfilled His promise to Abraham in His time (Genesis 21).
Sometimes we lose hope for a brief time because we don't understand what God is doing in our lives. It is important for the Christian to remember that God’s methods and timing are not ours, and we must trust Him. While He chisels away with one hand, He encourages us with the other—making us stronger in the process.
Other times hope dims because of what others are saying or doing to us. We often do not comprehend the “why” of our suffering, but in those trials we need to remember that we live in a sinful world where people do evil things.
Finally, we can lose hope at times through self-inflicted spiritual injury. In my estimation, this is the most devastating of the three. There are countless Christians who are not experiencing joy or hope because they are being disobedient to God. They have allowed the distractions of this world to lead them away from God’s calling in their lives. Every Christian must guard against such distractions.
1. Decide to take action. The enemy wants you to believe that you are on a dead-end street and you can't get out. It's a lie! There is always a way out.
2. Understand the core problem. Once you decide to take action, you need to pray and ask God to show you the core problem. In the Psalms, David prayed this: "Search me and know my heart, O God. See if there be any wicked way in me" (Psalm 139:23).
3. Don’t rationalize what you find. When you discover the problem, don't you talk yourself into rationalizing its importance.
4. Deal with the problem honestly before God. Lay the problem before God and say, “Here it is. I want You to see it.”
5. Destroy the barrier that is keeping you from hope. Once you discover what the barrier is, ruthlessly destroy it.