Swallowing Hope Instead of Despair

What kind of pills are you swallowing each day of your life?

I was recently talking with a dear friend who has been a student of psychology at both Master’s and Doctorate levels. We were talking about various trials and triumphs that we’ve experienced thus far.  Then we talked about perspective in the midst of those situations.

“There are tons of verses on speaking things into existence and a ton of studies on the power of positive psychology,” she said. Then she went onto teach me something that has greatly has altered my perspective in the last 24 hours. “There was a study about pills given to patients. They were on the same thing, but on half of the group’s tablets the word HOPE was spelled out and the other half of the group had something like PHEO. The people who took HOPE had a greater success rate all because it had a positive message.”

I got to thinking about that. Despair is just as available to swallow as Hope. But Hope is so much easier to digest.  Despair is laced with what-if’s, fear, doubts, and thinking the worst. Hope is lined with eager anticipation, trust, positivity, and the potential for joy.

As I’ve talked with various friends all over the world through the years, I’ve come to realize that many of us are facing the same struggle, though manifested through different conflicts. Most of the time, the issues we are dealing with have to do with waiting and trust.

I think back to a time when David and I were in a waiting phase for a full time job after he had been unexpectedly laid off. At the same time, our friends, Ashley and Derrick, were sharing fellowship with us in the same agonizing experience of waiting and learning to place all trust in the Lord along with His timing.  Only, their conflict was different than ours. They were waiting for God to send them another child after suffering through several miscarriages. Our conflicts were different, but our struggles were the same.  Ashley’s anthem at the time was, “I will worship while I’m waiting.” I can think of no greater form of trust than to worship during the wait.

“Conflict is good,” said my high school English teacher. I never knew what she meant until I hit conflict head on. I always thought she was nuts for saying that. But then, when I got in the midst of real conflict, I realized what she meant. Conflict shapes your character. Character is how you respond to the struggles you are presented. Character is a presentation of the opportunity to either swallow hope or despair.

Whatever your struggles and conflict may be you’re faced with a conscious decision to make.  Are you going to choose to look at your situation through the lense of Hope? Or as my husband calls it, are you going to choose to revert to “stinking thinking?” Stinking thinking is the most organic route to go.  It’s what we all tend to lapse into when given a difficult hurdle. Though it is often the more effort-filled decision, Hope, has great reward. Hope endures till the end. Despair tricks you into living in an unknown end that you have passed off as definite truth in your mind. Hope guides with light. Despair disguises hope with darkness.

You know what the truth is about hope? “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:5-6 NIV).

Did you see that? While we were still powerless, Hope stepped in. That’s good news for you and good news for me. I like to be in control, don’t you? The thing is, we are handed so many situations in which we really have very little power. What is required of us is the choice for whose power to rely upon. There is no fruitful power in darkness. The only power it holds is destruction. There is endless power in light, though.  Light always guides with Hope.

“ In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).

What pill are you going to swallow? Despair or hope? We’ve all swallowed a bit of despair at some stage of our lives. It has brought nothing but ugliness and desolation. If you choose to swallow despair, you’ll exist in a constant state of disappointment. If you choose to swallow hope, you will not be disillusioned.

No, if you swallow hope, you swallow the power of Christ to guide you through any conflict you’re facing with His inextinguishable light.

What pill are you going to swallow?

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