1. HAVE TUNNEL VISION
Negative situations seem to demand our focus – either because of the shock of them or our desire to fix them quickly and avoid any further inflicted pain from it. These circumstances could be abrupt, unexpected occurrences or long-standing issues we have dealt with for a long time. These things can feel opposed to the promises of God and out of control. They try to steal all of our focus and thus deplete our joy.
Tips for increasing tunnel vision: Listen to people who talk only about the negative situation at hand. Hang out with hopeless people (especially ones struggling with the same thing). Constantly read or listen to bad news. Only look for that topic in the conversations you have with others. (Let’s Just Laugh At That!)
Tips for overcoming tunnel vision: Make God bigger by focusing on Him. The highest truth to focus on is that God loves you. We can also pull ourselves out of tunnel vision by growing in thankfulness and empowerment with practical steps like these 1) Pray for others. 2) Activate your faith in every area you can, and declare the promises of God over other areas. 3) Celebrate your previous breakthroughs. 4) Thank God for breakthroughs that are coming. 5) Encourage someone else on the journey.
This intentional shift of focus should inspire hope and pave the way for breakthrough; what you focus on will increase in your life.
To read more about empowering mindsets, click here.
2. Shape your God-concept around your experiences
Six years ago, I had been told that God was good and powerful, but I had not personally experienced it. As a teacher in the juvenile hall, my days were filled with stories of abusive homes, hopelessness, unnecessary crime, and long prison sentences for youth. My daily experiences of pain quickly outweighed my daily experiences of God’s goodness, and my concept of God began to be shaped around what I saw, rather than what was true (which is also a result of tunnel vision). My mind soon adopted the question, “Is God good?” and “Is He still powerful today?” As I gave those questions permission to linger in my mind, they attracted other lies like, “God doesn’t care,” “He’s far away,” and “He can’t even change this.” Negative thought patterns and doubt grew, leading to hopelessness and a feeling of disempowerment.
Tips for increasing experientially-based views of God: Assume that the measure of breakthrough you currently have in God is all you will get. Do not expect to experience any more of Him. Only define your concept of God with the things that are in your direct and peripheral vision right now. Forget all His benefits (opposite of Psalm 103:2). (Let’s Just Laugh At That!)
Tips for overcoming experientially-based views of God: We start to overcome this by fixing our beliefs. An added help for overcoming this is to expand our experiences to include more of the things of God. Practical steps to begin experiencing life as an overcoming believer include: 1) Fill your mind with truth from the word of God about who He is and who you are (click here for 100 declarations). 2) Worship Him for who the Word says He is. 3) Praise Him for what you have seen Him do. 4) Increase hunger and expectation for new experiences with Him. (Tip for this: listen to testimonies from people who have experienced God in radical ways.) 5) Hang out with people who have a strong belief in your areas of doubt.
3. Try to fix situations with tools God is not using
Have you ever tried to dig a hole in cement with a plastic spoon or knit a scarf using spaghetti noodles? It is just as silly to battle a problem on God’s heart with characteristics that aren’t His. The common ways we tend to feel that we are engaging a problem is through worry, fear, anxiety, and debate. While these tend to fill space in our mind and conversations, they don’t prove to be incredibly effective. Beyond caring about what God cares about, partnering with Him looks like embodying His nature on the earth. We are called to be supernatural beings with supernatural solutions.
Tips for increasing your use of the wrong tools: Worry! Worry a lot. Keep your eyes open wide for disagreements and be quick to speak up when you find them. Let thoughts of what “could” happen stir in your head and beg God to make a difference (Let’s Just Laugh At That!)
Tips for overcoming this: 1) Let God’s peace guard your heart and your mind (Philippians 4:7). Spend time with Him and allow Him to take your fear and worry from you. 2) Read about the life of Jesus and meditate on ways that He handled situations. 3) Speak and pray in faith by setting your mind on the promises of God.
Click here to read a blog from Wendy on Praying in Faith.
4. Don’t do anything
You were motivated to make a change, but your itch to see a difference got scratched when you posted to Facebook or your anger subsided. You’ve never felt so passionate about something before, but you wonder if it was really your battle to fight anyway. Then point #3 just told you not to use certain tools and you begin to fear that if you fight, you might choose the wrong tools, and go against what God is doing – and you do nothing because of fear of getting it wrong, offending someone else, or failing.
Tips for increasing passivity: Consider every difference you tried to make in the past that failed. Allow a case to be built that even if you tried again, it wouldn’t work. Look at all the people in the world trying to make a difference that failed, and assume they are better than you; therefore, it is hopeless. Distract yourself with other things you are good at. Whatever you do, don’t find joy in the midst of pain (thus causing a smile), and don’t pray; while those feel like subtle actions, they are mightily engaging and transformative. (Let’s Just Laugh At That!)
Tips for moving into action: 1) Take note of your heart and how it’s feeling. Develop a conversational relationship with Jesus Christ in which He can help you identify your truest passions. 2) Ask God for strategies and solutions in the areas of need you feel called to serve in. 3) Ask Him for partners – prayer partners and strategic partners. 4) Pray and declare His truth into the atmosphere regarding the situation you’re called to bring change to. 5) When you have something to say, pray about the best platform to use, who your message is for, and what you want to communicate to, in love.
In conclusion: He who has the most hope has the most influence. In our calling to bring light and truth into a world in need, growing in hope is a strategic move to increase our influence in all realms of society. We hope you see the humor in this and know that our desire is to see every individual freed from hopelessness and launched into radical levels of hope and joy in every area of life.
- God is faithful, and He is able.
- I have supernatural hope, and it increases daily.
- I stand confidently on the promises of God.
- I am a catalyst of hope for others in key situations.
Is there a particular scripture that fuels your hope?
Please share it in the comments below.
Guest post by: Julie Heth
Julie Heth, former Igniting Hope Ministries Project Manager, is one of the co-authors for Let’s Just Laugh At That for Kids. She is passionate about seeing hope arise in cities, especially among youth. She will soon be based on the west side of Chicago, working with By The Hand Club for Kids.