Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hope Gets Us Moving

In yesterday’s post, I spoke about Hope’s role in helping us to see opportunities. Today, I will speak about the way in which hope gets us moving to take advantage of those opportunities.

Opportunity Requires Action

Let’s revisit yesterday’s example. The man who sees the opportunity in the manure must do a lot of smelly, messy work before he can benefit from that opportunity. If he doesn’t already have a garden tilled, he must break the ground and furrow the rows to prepare them for planting. Then, he must take the manure and mix it into the furrowed ground and plant the seeds.

Afterward, he must keep tending and weeding the seeds to prevent them from being choked off before they can grow. He must do this daily, or at least every few days. He must make sure that the plants are adequately watered, as well, and if there isn’t rain that means bringing water to the plants on a regular basis.

The man must continue to do this for anywhere from 60 to 90 days before he sees the first fruits of his labor if he is dealing in vegetables. If this is fruit trees or bushes, it may be years before he sees that first harvest, and that is only if those trees do not blossom too early and have their fruit stolen by early frost. It is only if pests and birds do not eat the fruits before he can harvest them.

Hope Encourages Action

It may be that we can spot an opportunity with ease, but if we allow self-doubt to flood us, or allow ourselves to dwell on past failures, we may allow fear to stop us from acting on that opportunity until the moment passes and the opportunity is lost forever. Hope reassures us that we have what it takes.

Hope helps us to overcome our fears of failure by reminding us that each failure is a learning opportunity, a chance to figure out what went wrong and correct it for the next try. Hope helps us to detach our identities from our goals by reminding us that we are loved simply for being, we do not have to earn that by what we do. 

Hope also reminds us that God wants good things for us, and so we are encouraged to try for them.

Opportunity Requires Planning

The man who was able to spot the opportunity in the manure did so because he first had a goal and some plans to reach that goal. He had a plan to provide for his family. He had counted up his assets and realized that he had land, was able to do the hard work to break that land, and could use the combination of his sweat equity and the land to provide that food.

His initial goal of providing for his family was broken down into several smaller goals: break the land, acquire the seeds, plant the seeds, tend them to fruition, and harvest the food produced. He spotted the manure, realized that it would help him to achieve a more abundant harvest when it was time, and made plans to take advantage of that opportunity. 

His new plans included obtaining the tools needed to transfer the manure to his garden and then applying it to the soil.

Hope Encourages Us To Plan

Hope helps us to formulate plans by encouraging us to ask ourselves how we might achieve whatever it is we desire to do. Going back to the research I cited, one of the most interesting findings about people who maintain high levels of hope is that they are people with multiple goals and concrete, definite plans of how to achieve them. Low hope people have only one goal and no definitive plan to achieve it.

Opportunity Requires Preparing for Obstacles

Let’s say the man with the manure does not own a shovel and wheelbarrow yet and so does not have the equipment to take advantage of the opportunity it represents. Rather than dismissing the opportunity because of the obstacle, he instead begins to make a list of potential ways he could overcome it.

The man with the manure might borrow the tools he needs. If he has money, he might go to the store and buy them. If he doesn’t have money and can’t borrow them, he might look around and see if there is something else he could use to carry it and some other way to scoop it up. He refuses to allow the obstacle to force him to surrender his goal.
Even once the manure is in place and the seeds are planted, he knows how easily the labor he puts into his garden can be wasted. He knows he must constantly be on the lookout for weeds and pests. He must protect his fruit from birds and wild animals that may seek to eat it before its time. He must watch the weather and put together strategies to deal with droughts or floods, frosts and scorching.

Hope Encourages Us To Prepare for Obstacles

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” – Matthew 19:29
Christ warned everyone that reaching our goals, and as Christians our ultimate goal is to be united with Christ, would never be easy.  It would involve sacrifice. It would involve blood, sweat, and tears. It would involve people who don’t understand what we’re doing sometimes walking away and abandoning us. We would have to be willing to risk everything and lose much before we were able to gain the object of our desires.

But, He promised us that if we persevered, we would eventually achieve greater things than we dared to dream. He gave us hope.

Hope reminds us that the obstacles are definitely going to come. In fact, the closer we get to achieving those dreams, the more of them we will encounter. However, these are not meant to deter us but to strengthen us. Suffering is strength training for the soul.

Ready for More?

I discussed the ways that hope gets us to take action by encouraging us to believe that greater things are possible, by helping us to plan for success, and to prepare for obstacles. In the next chapter, I’ll talk about hope’s role in challenging us to achieve more.

 Are You Feeling Encouraged?

If you are feeling encouraged to seek a way out of your struggles, if you are feeling better about what's in front of you, let me know. If you're feeling down and need a lift, let me know that, too. I'll pray for you. Know that you are loved, that you are wanted, and that there is hope for your future.

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