Monday, December 2, 2013
Pastorgraphs: “Hope Full”
December 2, 2013
[Pastorgraphs now online at ChristSD.com]
Pastorgraphs: “Hope Full”
Yesterday marked the beginning of the Christian New Year. (Happy New Year!) Many churches observe the First Sunday of Advent with the lighting of the Advent wreath candles, the first being the Candle of Hope. The Bible tells us that on that dark night 2000 years ago the faithful hoped for the coming of the Messiah.
How timely it was to find Dr. Shane J. Lopez’s book, “Making Hope Happen”. It is the best and most practical book I have read explaining in simple, yet powerful terms, what hope is, is not, and most importantly, how to put hope into action in your life.
As a psychologist, Lopez’s view of hope was shaped by an encounter with an older Midwestern farmer (John) who had just learned his kidneys were failing, and that he would have to undergo dialysis regularly in a not-so-nearby town. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans on his farm and equipment, the farmer could see no future, and announced he was going home to commit suicide. (Hope dies when we see no future.) Dr. Lopez worked with the farmer, his wife, and eventually their estranged son, to set new, short term goals. The doctors agreed to delay dialysis two weeks so he could get his corn crop in from the fields. Much to their surprise, after two weeks, his kidney situation improved so that the doctor’s granted yet another delay for another impeding farm task.
Don’t get ahead of me. No, Dr. Lopez is not saying having a positive attitude made Farmer John better. It was his hope that changed. Eventually Farmer John had to begin dialysis, but with a new future and new goals in mind. He reconciled with his son, who took over the family farm as Farmer John had planned all along. His health and well-being improved dramatically because hope replaced hopelessness.
Thanks to Dr. Lopez’s brilliant book, I offer:
Seven Steps to A Hope Full Life
1. Hope matters. Hope impacts so many aspects of life; including health, happiness, longevity and success. Dr. Lopez has research to back up these claims, and says, “…how we hope – determines how well we live our lives”.
2. Hope is doing. Hope is a virtue, which means it is something you “do”, not something you “have” or “believe”. As a virtue, hope is the golden mean between the vices of fear (the absence of hope) and euphoria (irrational false hope).
3. Hope is not positive thinking or wishing. Lopez emphasizes that hope is not a “positive attitude” or “wishing” (terms he calls Mental Fast Food, or Mind Candy). He shows that such mind games may actually harm hope, robbing the mind of the energy needed to “do” hope.
4. Hope is a choice. Too many have never done the hard work of examining themselves to find out if they are where they should be, and if not, why? Hope is in your hands. You can change your hopelessness into hope today.
5. Hope enables you to make your future better than the present. Lopez stated, “our relationship with our future determines how we live today.” He added, “When we’re hopeful, our ideas and feelings about the future work together. Our thoughts look ahead and tell us what we need to do today to get where we want to go. Our feelings lift us up and give us the energy to sustain our effort. Hope is the work of the heart and the head. Hope happens when our rational selves meet our emotional selves.”
6. Hope is contagious. When we are hopeful, we inspire hope in those around us. Plus, we are attracted to other hope full people. Lopez stated, “Hope almost always involves a leap of faith…Hope inspires us to transcend ourselves. We dream a little bigger. We aim a little higher.”
7. Hope can be learned. Lopez suggests we practice “nexting”, setting up both short term and long term goals of what you want to accomplish next. What is the next movie you want to see, the next book to read, the next goal to accomplish.
If you are hopeless today, most likely you, at “Point A”, (where you are today), have lost sight of your “Point B”, (where you want to be tomorrow, next year, ten years from now) or how to get there. Like Farmer John, you might have to reset your goals, but to have no hopes for tomorrow is the fast lane to hopelessness and despair.
and it is no coincidence that 1 Corinthians 13 places hope between faith and love as the three greatest virtues that will never die. So go out and “do” hope today!
Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins, Pastor
From the Quote Garden:
“Hope is the anchor of the soul.”
~ Hebrews 6:19 ~
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205