Ever have one of those weeks where everything in your life seemed to be piling on and there seemed to be no end in sight? That’s been my week this week. As a control freak who always likes to feel and look in control, weeks like this rattle me to the core. I hate having to acknowledge let alone expose my weaknesses. And yet, ironically, it is in my weakness that God’s strength is magnified. When I am able to let go of control and let God be in the driver’s seat, I feel peace and hope.
“Life in 6 Words” by Propaganda carries a powerful message that can change lives.
What are the 6 words that hold such power?
GOD. OUR. SINS. PAYING. EVERYONE. LIFE.
Let’s look deeper:
GOD created us to be with Him. OUR sins separate us from God. SINScannot be removed by good deeds. PAYING the price of sin, Jesus dies and rose again. EVERYONEwho trusts in Him alone has eternal life. LIFE with Jesus starts now and lasts forever.
I first saw this a few years ago, and just had to buy a copy so I would be able to post it for others to see — others like me — broken and in need of hope and healing.
My week was painful and difficult. But by God’s Grace I persevered. It wasn’t always pretty and I didn’t always get it right, but I know God was with me. I was not and am not alone. And, you don’t have to be either.
This recipe for hope can transform your life. Don’t wait for hope to come to you. Add these ingredients to your life today to jump-start your journey.
Helplessness Open-mindedness Power Expectation
#1. Helplessness – The paradox of hope
Helplessness in a recipe for HOPE?!?! Yes!!
In the deepest moments of our struggles in life, we frequently resist adding this important ingredient. No one wants to admit they are helpless in any situation. It seems unthinkable that we might not be able to figure out some way to course correct on our own.
We genuinely want to do things right, and we sincerely want to be better people. We deeply desire to fix it. This is our make-it-work moment for crying out loud!
Unfortunately, it is exceedingly hard for most of us to consider that our home-grown solutions may not be the best, most effective ways to reach our goals. Then to top it off, we choose to persist in this folly despite repeatedly coming up short. We tend to believe that there has to be a way to win if we just try hard enough and if we really want it badly enough. We tell our selves that our intentions are good so success must be inevitable. But, we all know from experience that more often than not this approach is a recipe for disaster not hope.
Determination and creative problem solving are powerful tools, but they are not universally effective weapons against the types of problems we face in this fallen, mixed-up world. Good intentions are, by definition, “good”, but they simply don’t have the power to defeat our greatest challenges let alone the lesser ones.
It is imperative that we acknowledge both our brokenness and our basic inability to fix ourselves. Most of us know this on some level, but we expend tremendous amounts of time and energy minimizing or outright denying this reality. As long as we persist in thinking we have the power to heal our deepest wounds or somehow rise above all our problems on our own, we will continue to be trapped in an inevitable cycle of emptiness, isolation, and fear……hopelessness.
A crucial first step toward healing is to admit we are helpless. Once we become willing to add this crucial ingredient to the mix despite its bitter taste, the journey toward hope can begin.
#2. Open-mindedness – The path toward hope
Closely linked to helplessness is our next ingredient, open-mindedness.
Hope requires us to be open to new ideas and new approaches.
We often want to stubbornly hold on to methods and supposed solutions despite that fact that they clearly haven’t been getting us where we want to go. Our tendency is to think we already have all the answers. We often believe that we simply need to try harder and success will be just around the corner.
The last thing we want to consider is that someone else might have insights or options that we overlooked. Or worse yet, they might have ideas and approaches that are — brace yourselves — better than ours!
We also need to be willing to reconsider tactics that didn’t work in the past. This is especially true if we suspect that we consciously or subconsciously sabotaged the effort.
The problem is not always the idea itself.
Perhaps we just didn’t truly give the idea a fair chance. Maybe we entered into the trial with a mental, emotional, or spiritual negativity that doomed us to failure from the outset. We must earnestly strive for a positive mindset and believe that the path we are taking can and will work.
Even the best ideas will fall flat and fizzle under the weight of negativity. If we say we are all in, but we behave and think in ways that clearly indicate that we are not, we are doomed to fail. This attitude can be hard to achieve when we are struggling with hopelessness. But if we truly want to recover hope, we must dig deep and give every option all we’ve got.
Without Open-mindedness, the doors out of our prison will likely remain locked.
#3. Power – The key to hope
The next ingredient in our recipe is power.
Since we are powerless in this quest for hope (see ingredient #1), we need to connect to an outside power source. Without this our journey toward healing will end before it has even begun. If we maintain an unparalleled open mind and fully acknowledge our helplessness but neglect to connect to a power source, we will remain hopeless and lost.
Power comes in many forms and although several types may enable some degree of hope and healing, not all are equally effective. Some can even cause more harm than good.
An inadequate power source for our computer might enable it to run, but it will likely be slow and prone to malfunctions. Connect our computer to a mismatched power supply and risk frying the circuits and turning it into a glorified paperweight.
The greatest chefs will tell us that the quality of our ingredients used can significantly impact our results. The final product may be quite edible and even provide valuable nutrition, but premium ingredients might have taken the dish to an even higher level.
No analogy is perfect, but our basic point should be clear. Utilizing the most appropriately matched and best quality power is of great importance. This is an extremely important ingredient!
Which power source should you choose? I’m glad you asked.
A vital characteristic of our power source will be a willingness and commitment to speak the truth in love. A power source that simply tells us what we want to hear to avoid hurt feelings or challenging us is not a true power source at all.
Some very good options include but are not limited to a faithful, trusted friend; a well-trained, empathetic counselor; a caring, committed support group; or a wise, grace filled spiritual mentor. Quite honestly, a combined multi-pronged effort utilizing several or even all of these options is often not only reasonable but advisable.
Ultimately, this is a very personal choice, but we believe that the most effective power for use in this recipe comes from God. God often uses these other power sources to bring healing and growth into our lives, but He can act directly as well. His power can reliably get us moving in the right direction, and it can also transform us in ways that no other power can. Thus, cultivating our direct relationship to Him is likely the most important ingredient of all. We strongly encourage you to consider including Him in the mix.
Not everyone will be comfortable with this, and that’s OK; we totally respect that. What is important is that we plug into some form of safe, healthy power and take those crucial first steps toward healing. Only then can we truly begin to explore the possibilities that lay ahead on our journey toward hope. (see ingredient #2)
#4. Expectation – The glimmer of hope
So, we’ve added an appropriate measure of helplessness along with a generous helping of open-mindedness. We have bravely connected to a power source to get the process started. What’s next?
Our recipe wouldn’t be complete unless we added expectation.
Without expectation we risk apathy. Our lack of motivation and alertness can lead to stagnation and missed opportunities for healing and growth. This unfortunately can lead to bitterness and resentment which kill hope.
Without expectation we may be tempted to give in to fear. We begin listening to the lies inside our heads that tell us we aren’t worth it or that we are beyond hope.
Without expectation we tend to focus on isolated victories. We lose sight of our goals causing our sense of direction to falter. We risk going off course and eventually losing sight of hope.
Clearly expectation is a vital ingredient. It is looking forward with anticipation. And, expecting that the actions you are taking and the power you are connecting to can and will produce results. It is anticipating the best even when your wounded soul says give up. Expectation is earnestly searching for and expecting to find hope.
Expectation is powerful so the recipe doesn’t require much. Even a little can have profound effects. Use caution, but feel free to season to taste.
Final preparation instructions:
Mix these ingredients gently with ample measures of grace and love. If the results aren’t what you want at first, remember progress not perfection. Even little steps can make grand staircases; so persevere. This basic recipe is only the beginning. Come back and read more as we seek hope together.