How to build hope

Some of my best moments in the last week: 

  • I received a text thanking me for something I did, telling me what it meant, and encouraging me to continue serving. 
  • Talking on the phone with a colleague about a stressful situation, I found my frustration and weariness building until she abruptly asked if she could pray for me. Her words poured truth and strength and hope over me and the situation. 
  • A friend randomly made my family dinner in the middle of the week, just because. 

Every day we have the power to bring a bit more life or a bit more death into the lives around us. We bring peace or struggle; we carry light or darkness. We live in a world at war over many things, and the way we walk matters. The way we talk matters.

We walk in Christ. We are saved from wrath (1 Thes. 5:9). Anger no longer defines us. We are called to live with him now, in this life, in these moments, not just in some far-off eternal future. And his concern is not just for you, but for his people. For us. Together.

The people who encouraged me this week were not thinking of themselves. They were thinking of me. They were thinking about light and hope and life. Their acts were small things, but they mattered to me. They lifted me up during a stressful week that was trying to pull me down. They built up my hope.

I wonder, if God’s people stopped being afraid and stopped being angry and asked how we could bring life into death, what might happen? If we walked even into hostile situations, situations we disagree with, asking how we could encourage and bring hope? If we looked at those around us as God’s beloved who are weary, anxious, and just as bewildered as we are about just as many things?

We could do a lot, I think. Encouragement has a ripple effect. Like how sitting at a well in the middle of a hot afternoon, listening and offering hope, can change a whole town. Like how offering up the smallest lunch can feed thousands. Like how a message given to a few close friends can travel the world and change history.

Our enemy is not flesh and blood, though he wants us to think that’s where the battle is. What if we determined not to deal in the words of death he would plant among us? We can stand for truth and love, for the truth islove. Jesus, show us the way.

“God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this . . .” (1 Thes. 5:9-11, The Message)

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