How to Foster Hope in a Hopeless World Part III

This is the third and final post on How to Foster Hope in a Hopeless World.

If you haven't had a chance to read Part I or Part II click the links below:

How to Foster Hope in a Hopeless World Part I

How to Foster Hope in a Hopeless World Part II

So far, we’ve talked about the physical, psychological, and relational aspects of hope. The final area of how we foster hope is spirituality.

Now, you are probably wondering what I mean by spirituality and how it can foster hope. I define spirituality as the animating force of life that moves us towards the sacred realities of life. Think of “animating force” within the context of computers and electricity. Electricity is not the software (i.e., your soul) nor is it the hardware (i.e., your body); electricity powers both. And you must plug in to receive it. The spirit powers your soul and body like electricity powers a computer and enables the software to operate. I believe that we ultimately rely on the power of God’s Holy Spirit to bring our souls and bodies to life. The “sacred” involves a reality that is both larger than us and that outlasts us. God is the core of all that is sacred, and other aspects of life become sacred because of God (i.e., the covenant of marriage, the blessing of children and parenthood, virtues like integrity and purity, meaning in life, the church and community, etc.).

But keep in mind: spirituality can be healthy or unhealthy.

Spirituality, when it IS healthy, promotes hope by providing personal but transcendent meaning in our lives and by giving us a community-oriented purpose. Community-oriented purpose is important because it helps us build hope beyond what we can individually accomplish. So, healthy spirituality positively impacts what we believe about the world and how we engage God, family, marriage, friendships, and the world around us.

Unhealthy spirituality promotes a self-focused, sometimes destructive emphasis on the self and neglects, minimizes, or harms the people and community around us. Unhealthy spirituality is like cancer: it eats away at us and erodes relationships, undermining hope in the process.

Let me paint a picture of healthy and unhealthy spirituality for you. Consider this: my home and your home are destroyed in a storm. If my spirituality is unhealthy and I lack hope, I might become angry with God, allow my grief to become depression and bitterness, be overcome with anger, and pull away from my community. The reason: I believe that neither God nor others care about my well-being and my loss. I may begin to believe that God must be punishing me. I resolve that I must take care of myself. You, on the other hand, have a healthy spirituality. You still hurt and grieve but do not allow that grief to turn into bitterness. You know that we all suffer at some point in life. You still ask, “Why?” but choose to pursue God in spite of the questions. You proactively turn to your faith community as a resource for support. You rebuild with hope and a sense of purpose.

Healthy spirituality promotes positive, growth-oriented meaning.

Our experiences do not define who we are nor can they ultimately determine the level of our hope; the meaning given to the experience does both. Think about that for a second. While it is true that we respond or react to our experiences, the meaning given to experiences is what actually determines how we think about ourselves, the world, and whether or not HOPE is possible.

Healthy spirituality promotes a positive, growth-oriented outlook on our circumstances that helps us assign meanings of hope rather than despair. Healthy meaning promotes hope because it moves us past hurtful experiences and towards the belief that we are alive for a reason. That reason: our struggles can be transformed to help others. This healthy spirituality and positive meaning making promote hope in my life!

As a Christian, I see hope clearly in the Scriptures. 1 Peter 1:3-6 states that we have a living hope because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead! In essence, Jesus’ resurrection secures “eternal survival,” ensures a relationship (i.e., attachment) with the One who created and loves us, and provides the power (i.e., mastery) needed to live in a way that lines up with God’s purposes for us. This hope overflows into others’ lives as we live with a sense of significance, both for the here-and-now and for the future.

No matter how you might be feeling or what you might be thinking, your life has meaning. Hope can be alive in your heart and in the lives of the people around you!

To engage spirituality and hope, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do I find meaning in life?
  • What, if anything, do I consider to be sacred?
  • How do I think about and engage spirituality in my life?
  • How does my spirituality promote hope personally and in the lives of those around me?

I encourage you to study what the New Testament says about Jesus and hope. Over the past 20 years, my life has been filled with hope because of my faith in Jesus and what His actions have meant for me and others.

To summarize our three blogs on hope:

At its core, hope is a four-part (survival, mastery, attachment, and spirituality), confident expectation regarding a positive future and goal.

As you research and discover, ask yourself, “How does what I am learning about hope apply to my life?”

Write down (i.e., journal) what you are learning to help you process and apply hope--physically, psychologically, relationally, and spiritually--to your life.

If you would like to take time to work on this information on your own – we created a Worksheet that you can download here:

Download the Foster Hope Worksheet Part III Here

In our next blog, we will tackle the what, why, and how of Wellness. Looking forward to seeing you there.