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2. Hope in a Hopeless World

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Hope in a Hopeless World

 

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“HOPE IN A HOPELESS WORLD”

 

 

We shareplanet Earth with some seven billion people, and every one of us is hoping for something. Senior citizens hope their retirement savings will not be lost. College students hope for money to finish their education and for a job upon completing it. Starving children in Somalia desperately hope for a crust of bread. A pastor, in a deplorable prison for his faith, hopes during his darkest moments that God will help him survive and provide for his family’s needs. A child hopes and prays that her parents won’t get a divorce. A single mother hopes that she will not be the one laid off at the office.

 

 
 

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“Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.”—Anonymous

 

 

 

What is that one important thing that you are hoping for?

 

We all need hope. What would we do without it? It keeps us healthy. It keeps us sane. It keeps our blood pressure down. We all need to believe that something good will happen, that there is something better—some positive action that will produce positive results when we are in a horrible situation. Hope sustains us in uncertain circumstances of life. Positive hope, attitude, and belief produce positive results.

 

 

Hope for a homeless man

 

 

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Hope for a Homeless Man

 

 

Bill was well on the road to success as he pursued his studies for a degree in communication when the bottom fell out of his world and he found himself homeless on the streets of a large metropolitan city.He had hoped for a degree and a bright future, but now he just hoped for a place to lay his head and something to eat. There had been too many social drinks, too many bad memories, too many things to drown out his emotions, and now he was penniless, begging on the streets, hoping that his classmates would not see him. He was analcoholic suffering painful withdrawals and unable to help himself at all. He needed hope and help.

 

Each morning en route to work, Jane would pass by scores of homeless and hopeless people. The pain and suffering that traced lines in their faces touched her heart.While many passed them by as though they were invisible, she resolved to show kindness to one.Bill was chosen.The next morning Jane madean extra-large lunch with a prayer for Bill—he was young and still had potential, she thought. As she rushed down the busy sidewalk Jane spotted Bill, handed the lunch bag to him with a smile,said, “God loves you,” and moved on to her workplace.

 

The gift lunch was repeated day after day for some time.While they never had significant conversation, Janewas aware that Bill looked forward to receiving the loving gift of lunch, and his countenance grew brighter.She even detected a gleam of hope in his eye.

 

One morning when Jane passed by, Bill was no longer at his usual spot. She wondered what had happened to him, but no one knew.Some time later, a well-dressed and clean-shaven young man politely approached Jane. “Do you remember me?” he asked.

 

“I don’t believe so,” Jane answered uncertainly.

 

“You fed me lunches for a long time when I had nothing. You smiled and told me God loved me, and that began to give me hope.”

 

Jane’s kindness toward Bill and belief in his worth gave him a desire to take control of his life, to not be a quitter, and gave him the courage to seek help at Alcoholics Anonymous for rehabilitation. Bill could not help himself.This healing touch of kindness made the difference.Bill returned to his university classes. Later a publishing company employed him, where he now is helping to change lives all over the world in a positive way. With a grateful heart Bill said to Jane, “Thank you for your kindness and for giving me hope.”

 

Hope contributes to heart health and good grades

 

 

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Hope contributes to heart health and good grades.

A cardiac surgeon remarked, “Hope is he medicine I use more than any other—hope can cure nearly anything.”

 

 

The topic of hope has been studied in connection with cardiovascular death in the elderly. In a Dutch study, researchers found the risk of cardiovascular death was 50 percent lower in optimistic elderly men than in those who were depressed or pessimistic.[i]People who are depressed and have a negative outlook on life have morenegative outcomes if they have heart surgery. Death for them is more likely than it is for those who are positive and happy with life. The conclusion is that positive mental health can help make a difference between death and life. All patients going in for surgery need hope.

 

Much research suggests that hope is actually a predictor of physical health and wellbeing.Hopelessness leads to depression.

 

 

 

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Hope is at the foundation of our body’s ability to promote healing or to allow disease to take over.

 

 

If life stresses and burdens are overwhelming you, and you are without hope, the effects threaten your body’s immune system. But if you gain hope and believe that aproblem can be overcome, the immune system is actually strengthened and energized.

 

C. R. Snyder,[ii] a researcher and psychologist at the University of Kansas, found that students with high levels of hope were far more creative in developing strategies to bolster their grades in school.

 

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  • Current research gives us insight on the value of hope.
  • Students with high levels of hope are far more creative in developing ways to raise their grades in school.

 

Students with moderate hope levels thought of ways to improve their grades but had less determination to pursue these plans. Students with low hope became discouraged and gave up. Snyder concluded that students of the same range of intellect are at different levels of achievement by virtue of their levels of hope. The students’ levels of hope were more accurate predictors of academic success for college freshmen in the first semester than were their College Entrance Test scores.[iii]

 

Hope for mice and men

 

 

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The Biology of Hope

Hope for Mice and Men

 

Scientists discovered an interesting truth about hope by experimenting with two rats. They placed one in a pail of water. He swam vigorously for twentyminutes, finally got tired, gave up, and drowned. The other rat was treated the same, except that just before he gave up, he was rescued. A few days later he was put back in the pail. He swam and swam. In fact, he swam for an hour and a half before giving up. Why the difference? The second rat had hope. He had escaped once. If he kept swimming, maybe he could escape again![iv][TL1]

 

Optimists live longer

 

A 2002 study by Dr. Toshihiko Maruta of the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology found that optimists live longer and have a higher quality of life than do pessimists. In his thirty-year follow-up on 447 patients, he observed that pessimists reported poorer physical and mental functioning and scored lower than did optimists on quality-of-life assessments.[v]

 

 

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Mayo Clinic Reports

Optimists Live Longer and have Higher Quality of Life.

 

 

Hope stretches us to do things in a different way, to think outside of the box, to be creative, to fight against the odds. We find strength to tackle what seems hopeless, since good things do happen to people who look on the brighter side of life and are full of hope.

 

Hope helps us to survive

When you are very ill, your body is hurting.So many unknowns exist. Your mind is foggy with medications, and perhaps astay in the hospital ensues. Your optimism level may fall, and hope seems to have vanished. This is when you need family and good friends to encourage you and to pray for you, since good can come out of bad.Let’s examine one case.

 

 

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Case Study of a Person who Applied the Hope Factor –Viktor Frankl

In 1942, Viktor Frankl, a young psychiatrist living in Vienna, was imprisoned in a Nazi concentrationcamp. The Nazis sought diligently to dehumanize the prisoners. Viktor was treated not as a person but as a number—prisoner number 119104.

 

Even though he was working at hard labor, Viktor’s psychiatric training prompted a keen interest in the various reactions of other prisoners to the hardships they faced. Many simply crumpled under the pressure and soon died—but those who survived were those who had something to live for. They had hope!

 

He noticed one prisoner in forced labor who spoke of his great desire to return home because he was needed to care for a mentally challengedchild. Another was deeply in love with a young woman; he wanted to survive so he could marry her. Those who held onto a vision of the future, those who had hope and purpose, survived the grueling months and years in prison.

 

When Viktor Frankl was captured, he had been writing a book. Even though he had attempted to take the manuscript with him to prison by sewing it into the lining of his clothes, his captors discovered and destroyed it. One of Viktor’s motivations for continuing to live was his desire to finish his book, and he actually rewrote his book in his mind while in prison. This kept him alert and focused on the positive. In addition, Viktor envisioned the face of his new bride night and day.

When the Allies freed Viktor in 1945, he returned to Vienna only to learn that his father, mother, and brother had died in concentration camps. Most difficult of all, his beloved bride died just a short time before the liberation. In spite of his devastating losses, Viktor summoned all his spiritual and emotional energy and vowed to move forward. He still had hope.

 

 

Viktor Frankl dictated the manuscript for Man’s Search for Meaning in nine days.[vi] In this book he states that although his tormentors had taken everything from him—every comfort, every loved one, every material possession—there was one thing they could not take from him. The only thing he had left was hope. Hope enabled him to survive the terrible crisis in his life. Before his death, nine million copies of his book were sold.

 

Viktor Frankl applied the hope principle and lived to tell his story.

 

 

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Hope + Intentional Action = Positive Results.

 

 

 

If you have hope and take intentional action to make your dream come true, these two will combine for positive results.

 

 
 

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Activity:Reflect on or discuss with your partner, family, or small group:

  • When you experience difficulties, how do you cope? What brings you hope and gives you the courage to continue moving forward and to survive, no matter what life throws at you?

 

 

 

Transcendent hope

 

 

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Earthly Hope vs. Transcendent Hope

·    Lot hoped for riches and comfort by moving to Sodom. Abraham hoped his family would inherit the eternal city of God

 

 

Earthly hope versus transcendent hope is described in the Bible story of Abraham and his nephew Lot.[vii] When their extensive flocks made separation necessary, Abraham gave his nephew the privilege of choosing which way he wanted to go—to the rather barren wilderness or the fertile valley of Sodom. Lot’s choice of the rich but wicked city of Sodom revealed his sense of values. Although for a time he prospered, he ended up losing everything—including his family. While Lot hoped for riches and comfort by moving to Sodom, his fond hopes of prosperity evaporated into pain and heartache.

 

Abraham’s vision was focused higher than making money on this earth. The Bible says he “looked for the city which hasfoundations, whose builder and maker is God.”[viii] Because Abraham had a higher level of hope that gave him lasting joy and satisfaction, he trusted that his family would inherit the eternal city of God.

 

There is temporal hope and there istranscendent hope. Temporal hope will rise no higher than its origin. People may have an earthly hope of obtaining earthly possessions, but these do not necessarily add meaning to life. Temporal hope ends in disappointment. Wemay never marry the ideal mate of our dreams or live in our dream house, but we can all have the blessed hope. Since earthly hopes can be elusive and fleeting, we must ultimately submit our lives to the will of God and hope in Him.

 

In a world of stress and uncertainties, many are returning to the Bible and its promises of hope and encouragement,

 

 

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Bible Promises that give us Hope

·    “For I know the plans that I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

●    We “have been born again into a life FULL OF HOPE.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

 

We can be full of hope. We were all born with hope. The famous writer Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”[ix]But our experiences of failure tend to extinguish the flame of hope. Ephesians 2:12 describes the outlook of those who do not know Christ: “At that time you were without Christ . . . having no hope and without God in the world.” But now being born again as the new you,you have a life full of hope.

 

 

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Anna finds HOPE

·    On her 23rd birthday, Anna decided to take her own life . . .

·    As she wrote suicide notes to family, friends, and even to God, the telephone rang.

 

The person calling had dialed the wrong number, but he sensed Anna’s distress and took time to share encouraging words as well as invite her to a meeting. Desiring to be healed from her brokenness, she attended the meeting and was so impressed that she returned each night. She wanted the hurt and the pain to go away. As Anna listened to the Bible topics, hope sprang up in her heart. She rejected the lies swirling in her head saying that she was worthless. Anna found new meaning in life. She found Jesus; she found hope.[x] So can you.

 

 

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God is bigger than the problems youhave. You may feel like a loser. You may be in despair and ready to give up. Maybe you have marital problems, or your home has been repossessed. Perhaps cancer is threatening you, or perhaps your soul is crying out to God for strength to lose a few pounds. Maybe you feel that all the odds are stacked against you, but God is bigger than all of your problems. As you hope for a better life, look to the Father God who understands. He will help you. Hope strengthens you to make the right changes and helps you to be an overcomer. Romans 5:5 says that “hope does not disappoint” us.

 

Hope in a hopeless world

 

 

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As this world seems to be crumbling around us, we have the “blessed hope” Titus 2:13.

 

Soon we will see Jesus “coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”   Luke 21:27.

 

According to the Bible, during the last days of earth’s history there will be “perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth.”[xi] The outlook doesn’t look good. It seems to be hopeless, and today, hopelessness is gripping the hearts of millions.

 

While the outlook is hopeless, the uplookis full of hope.

 

The Good News for us is that we can have the second coming of Christ as a hope that burns in our hearts.

 

 

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“When these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”  Luke 21:28

 

 

A mother was having difficulty moving through the stages of grief after her three-year-old daughter died, because she thought she would never see her again. Then sheread 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout . . . and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first,” and she claimed the promise. Yes, we have the hope of not only this life but of eternal life with our loved ones.

 

 

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Billy Graham tells of a friend who had gone through the Great Depression, losing his fortune, his job, his home, and even his wife—but he did not lose his faith in God. One day when he stopped to watch a construction workerin a churchyard, he saw the manchiseling on a triangular stone and asked what he was doing. The workman responded by pointing to an opening at the top of the church near the spire: “I am shaping it down here so it will fit in up there.”

 

As the man walked away, he heard God speaking to his heart through thatworker. “I’m shaping you down there so you can fit in up here.” This gave him hope.[xii]

 

 

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Those who hope have resilience to never give up.

  • We do the difficult immediately.
  • The impossible takes a little while longer.
  • With unyielding hope we reach our dreams!
  • We are WINNERS!

 

Hope gives you courage to go forward. You will live more abundantly in this life, and an eternity of happiness stretches before you.

 

 

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·    HOPE and you will live! Despair and you will die!

·    Life withoutChrist is a hopeless end. Life with Christ is an endless hope.

 

At a time when thousands are losing their jobs, houses are being repossessed, stock market funds may beplummeting, thebank accounts amongthe middle class and the poor are moving toward a big zero, a large group of individuals isdesignating their home as a “Home of Hope and Health” and inviting neighbors to come in for encouragement, instruction, and prayer. When all possible solutions to a problem seem to have run out, we can talk to someone about it and realize that God’s solutions have not been exhausted. While we may not know what to do next, God does. Ask Him. He will respond. He opens the door to hope and will help us.

 

Have you considered making your home a “Home of Hope and Health” to inspire others with confidence and hope? Think about it. A blessing is waiting to happen in your home.

 

Prayer

Lord, our Hope is in You. We find hope in You when we don’t know what to do. Thank You that You care, that Youtenderly sympathize with our heavy burdens, gigantic trials, and all things that seem hopeless. Help us accept difficult situations and learn to trust You more. Give us wisdom and help in every emergency we face. Our prayer is that You will give us positive emotions and strengthen us to fight our battles of life. We know that You will never leave us nor forsake us. You have sustained us in the past, You are with us in the present, and we know You will guide us in the future. We praise You for supplying all our needs and know that Your support never ceases. Help us to be a friend to the hopeless. Amen.

 

 

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Reflect/Discuss

1. Share an experience when you were facing the impossible and yet you had hope.

2. What gives you the most hope when things are not going your way?Are you optimistic or pessimistic when this happens?

 

 

 

 

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Reflect/Discuss

3.What Bible promises, special quotes, stories or life experiences encourage you and give you hope?

4. How do you bring hope to the disappointed, discouraged, or depressed person who has no hope?

 

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Reflect/Discuss

1.What part do sympathy and unselfish love play in giving hope to those who are desperate and have no solutions to their problems?

 

 

Reflect/Discuss

 

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Personal Reflection

1.  What do I hope for most of all?  What am I doing to make this dream come true?

2.  What can I do when my dreams  do not become a reality?  How can I cope in a healthy way?  Do I go forward with resilience in a positive way with hope?

 

 

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Personal Reflection

3.  The Bible promise says, “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).  What does this promise mean to you?

 

 

 

 

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Intentionality

My hope is to do the best I can, to be all that I can be with the time and abilities I have.

My big dream is to __________________________________ by___________________ (date).I hope to be a winner.

 

Case Study—Judy’s Choice

Catastrophic thinking or optimistic thinking.Judy, a single mother, loses her job. The dental bill is due for both teens, the son has registered for a college course and now needs a car to drive to class, some grocery money was spent for teens’ needs, and the house payment is due in two weeks. The situation is hopeless. Judy is devastated. As she lies in bed, she replays her state of affairs: I can’t handle this—I will never get another job around here. I will never recover from this! Catastrophic thoughts are racing through her mind. Let’s analyze the situation.

 

First of all, is Judy’s first thought true? Does the fact that she has lost one job predestine her to never find another job? Will pessimistic thinking help her situation or her children? Will worry and depression solve her problems or improve her health?

 

Judy could say, “God, I trust You.I accept this as an opportunity to trust You more. I believe that something good is going to come out of this crisis. What steps should I take to handle my financial concerns? What can I learn from this experience?”

 

Which of the two thinking patterns would contribute more to Judy’s and her family’s health and well-being?

 

All of us get discouraged at some point in life. That is why the Bible is full of promises that bring us hope in times of uncertainty. Our prayers may not solve all of our problems immediately, but they help us to cope with them.

 

Worry is blind, and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.[xiii]



[i]. Erik J. Giltay, Marjolein H. Kamphuis, Sandra Kalmijn, Frans G. Zitman, and Daan Kromhout, “Dispositional Optimism and the Risk of Cardiovascular Death,” Archives of Internal Medicine 166, no. 4 (February 27, 2006), 431–436.

[ii]. Reported in Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (New York: Bantam Books, 1995).

[iii]. This test, known as the SAT, is a standardized college entrance test in the United States.

[iv]. Aileen Ludington and Hans Diehl, Health Power: Health by Choice Not Chance (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2000), 330.

[v]. Toshihiko Maruta, Robert C. Colligan, Michael Malinchoc, and Kenneth P. Offord, “Optimism-Pessimism Assessed in the 1960s and Self-reported Health Status 30 Years Later,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings 77, no. 8 (August 2002), 748–753.

[vi]. Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy (New York: Pocket Books, 1963).

[vii]. Genesis 13:7–13; Genesis 19.

[viii]. Hebrews 11:10.

[ix]. Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Man,” Epistle I, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2428/2428-h/2428-h.htm.

[x]. Mark Finley, Solid Ground (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2003), 330.

[xi]. Luke 21:25–26.

[xii]. Adapted from Alice Gray, Stories of the Heart: The Second Collection, Over 100 Stories to Warm Your Heart (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2001).

[xiii]. E. G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1898), 330.


 [TL1]I could not verify the page number. Please check the source.

 

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