Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!
Was there ever a time that you felt hopeless? Did you hold onto hope? May the feature article, Hoping Is Not A Hopeless Endeavor, remind you the importance to keep on hoping. As for me, the greatest comfort is from the promises of God.
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:1-5)
Do you want to have a hope that does not disappoint?
"Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible." - Anonymous
Having a healthy dose of hope can be motivating and inspiring. It keeps people focused on what's ahead instead of what's in the past. It can also help keep the focus on possibilities, and reframe obstacles as opportunities.
For some, however, being hopeful goes hand-in-hand with feeling naive or foolish when things don't work out as planned. They would rather not have hope at all if it means later disappointment.
But for others, having hope doesn't mean living in denial of life's difficulties; it simply reminds them there are better times ahead.
The Benefits of Hope
Research indicates that it's more beneficial to have hope than not. Hopeful people tend to show more resilience when faced with difficulties. They have healthier lifestyle habits and, on the whole, are more successful, personally and professionally.
According to the Mayo Clinic, having a hopeful, positive attitude has health benefits as well. These include:
- Increased life span
- Reduced depression
- Lowered levels of distress
- Increased resistance to the common cold
- Greater emotional and psychological well-being
- Decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Improved coping skills during difficulties/stress
- Meaningful long- and short-term goals
- A plan to achieve those goals
- Flexibility to find alternate ways to achieve goals when faced with obstacles
- Positive self-talk
Cultivating hope, on the other hand, helps activate creativity and inventiveness and prompts us to solve the predicaments we face by taking action in spite of our fears.
Hope brings with it the belief that things can change for the better. Regardless of how dire things may seem, there is potential for a positive outcome.
Is It Possible to Be Too Hopeful?
It could be said that optimists have a healthy dose of hope while "extreme optimists" suffer from blinding hope. They want nothing to do with bad news.
Researchers at Duke University found that extreme optimists (you could call them "high-hopers") don't save money, don't pay off credit cards and don't make long-term plans, but they are more likely to remarry if divorced.
Moderation, as usual, is the key. The researchers also found that "moderate optimists" tend to:
- Work harder
- Work longer hours
- Make more money
- Save more money
- Pay off credit cards
In other words, whether you expect the best or the worst from life, chances are that's what you'll get.
Studies seem to suggest that being hopeful is a skill that can be learned. So whether you're an extreme optimist, an extreme pessimist or somewhere in between, there is hope for us all.
Hope does not disappoint for Christians, not because Christians are "moderate high-hopers," but because Christian hope is grounded in the promises of God. Consider Abraham's story:
"He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." (Romans 4:20-21)
Are you in a seemingly hopeless situation? You are not alone!
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications