Taken from an article by Mary Thompson, former director of Nurses Christian Fellowship- a ministry of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, July 2020
Hope involves having a positive perspective of the future. However, being in a pandemic, along with other things happening in our lives and our country, can challenge our experience of hope. There is weariness in knowing the pandemic will be a reality for the months ahead.
No matter what our situation, it is vital to seek ways to instill hope in ourselves, and to encourage others.
Hope grows as we…
- Acknowledge the losses and emotions we are feeling: Such as loss of “normal routine,” not seeing people we know and love, loneliness, financial loss, missing worship as a church community, concern for family, needing to do the extra safety measures to keep us safe, fear about our health as well as all that is happening in our country and world.
It is important to grieve our losses as we seek to move forward. What losses, emotions and grief are you feeling?
- Focus on Jesus: Reflect on what Jesus experienced as he entered our world and faced brokenness of many kinds in a different kind of global pandemic.
Jesus understands and cares, He declared, “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30).
What are ways you have experienced coming to Jesus in the last weeks?
- Dwell on the sources of hope: Hope begins with an awareness of God’s love. This love helps to relieve fear, a reality that many feel during the pandemic. Meditate on scripture that focuses on God’s love. Pray “that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and that you may be filled with all the fullness of God,” Ephesians 3:14-19.
Hope is nurtured through relationships with others: Mutual sharing of how we are experiencing the pandemic, and other experiences of life, is vital for emotional and spiritual health. We are not alone, and we are loved
Who communicates God’s love to you? Who is God calling you to share Jesus’ love through actions and words?
- Re-imagine the future: Hope involves thinking about the future with an expectation that something new will emerge. Be thankful for everything you can think about which has shown God’s goodness and faithfulness. List positive things that have come out of the stay at home situation. Examine how you feel about change. Though we like the security of doing things we have done in the past, the future will be different with new normals. God will be with us, and other people will walk with us. See a bit of humor in the present. For example, think about our “new look” as we wear masks in church!
Meanwhile, care for the body God has given you. Get rest, exercise, and good nutrition. Wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing. Recognize anxiety and depression and seek professional help as necessary. Some actions to reduce stress include praying with a friend, taking a break from the news media or thinking about stressful things, simplifying your life and prioritizing what is important. God may make you aware of new gifts or callings in your own life. This is an opportunity to grow as a disciple of Jesus and to reach out to others.
Pray for an attitude of expectation of God’s goodness amid change. What 1-2 actions is the Holy Spirit prompting you to take? Share these with a friend and pray for one another.
Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.