We can live through any and all challenges as long as we have hope. Without hope even the mundane trials of life can become overwhelming. When I meet with a depressed or discouraged client, I do my best to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Chinese word for “crisis” consists of two symbols, one meaning “danger” and one meaning “opportunity.” And many times when we face a crisis we have actually been given a dangerous opportunity. If we view the challenge before us with hope and positive expectation, we can overcome danger, disappointment, and even despair. God can transform any difficulty into an opportunity for growth.
When friends, coworkers, or family members come to you in crisis, do you instill hope? Do you take the time to understand and empathize before you respond? Or do you tend to quickly give advice – or react with criticism and disapproval? To instill hope we must first listen and care. When you have gone through difficult times, how helpful was it to hear curt unsolicited suggestions from people who didn’t take the time to truly understand?
Perhaps the saying, “People need to know that you care, before they care what you know,” is overused. But…in most situations, it is true.
As you convey an attitude of compassion and show nonverbal expressions of love and acceptance, you will create an atmosphere of trust in which empathetic words become seeds of hope planted gently into your friend’s heart. At the right moment when the heart is receptive, your words of encouragement and hope will make a difference. As genuine love is expressed in gracious words without judgment or coercive intent, hope can flow from your heart into the heart of your friend.
Never doubt that God can use your listening and your caring words for good. You can instill hope into the broken-hearted! “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life!” (Proverbs 15:4)
And if your heart is low on hope, receive Jesus’ words: “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
Through the prophet Jeremiah God spoke these words: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Take heart. We are never alone, and God will never forsake us. Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. He always listens, always cares, and always gives us hope.