Hope involves having a positive perspective of the future. But a pandemic and other events in our lives and our country challenge our experience of hope. We continue to pray for healthcare workers and for researchers to find an effective vaccine, but it’s difficult to wait for solutions, and we’re weary, knowing the pandemic will be a reality for the months ahead.
I’ve been reflecting on what I learned about hope. Also, as a faith community nurse in my church, I want to encourage volunteers who are phoning the homebound and the isolated with renewed hope.
Whatever our situation, it’s vital to seek to instill hope in ourselves and to encourage others. May we continue to discover ways the God of hope is caring for us and see opportunities to share this care with others: in our nursing roles, families, and churches.
Hope grows as we…
1. Acknowledge the losses and emotions we are feeling. There’s 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.
Grieving our losses is important as we seek to move forward.
What losses, emotions, and grief are you feeling?
2. Focus on Jesus. Reflect on what Jesus experienced as he entered our world and faced brokenness in a different kind of global pandemic. Jesus understands and cares, and offers rest in the midst of burdens we are carrying (Matthew. 11:28-30). The Holy Spirit will counsel us as we communicate with our Lord about our losses, emotions, and grief.
- God’s Word brings hope: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Dwelling in and sharing God’s Word in our conversations and prayers is life-giving.
- Worship music can help us hear God’s encouragement. I’ve appreciated listening to the YouTube songs posted by our church worship pastor. Focusing on worship brings peace and calm into the stress of life.
How have you experienced Jesus “coming to you” the these past weeks?
3. Dwell on the sources of hope.
- Hope begins with love--from God and others. This love helps to relieve fear which many are feeling in the pandemic. Love helps us know we’re valued.
Meditate on Scripture about God’s love.
For instance, ponder and pray Ephesians 3:14-19 for yourself. Consider sharing these verses with people you know and in your prayers for them.
- Hope is nurtured through relationships with others. Mutual sharing of how we‘re experiencing the pandemic and other experiences of life is vital for emotional and spiritual health. We’re not alone, and we are loved!
Who has God has brought into your life to communicate his love for you?
Who is God calling you to communicate Jesus’ love to through actions and words?
4. Re-imagine the future.
Hope involves how we think about the future. Is it mainly with loss and sadness, or an expectation of “something else” that may emerge?
- Be thankful for everything you can think of--present and past--that has shown you God’s goodness and faithfulness.
- List positive things that have come out of the “stay at home” mode and communication through phone, Zoom, and videos on websites.
- Examine your feeling about change. Though we like the security of doing things as we’ve done in the past, this can also be a time of “new beginnings.” In Luke 5:37-38, Jesus talks about “new wineskins.” Isaiah 43:18-19 states, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?”
- See a bit of humor in the present. In a trip to the grocery store with everyone wearing masks, I thought about the “new look” for people. Though looking “funny,” we’re also doing good for others. We’ll need this perspective as we re-gather in church buildings with new procedures for keeping everyone safe.
- Anticipate the future as “different” with a “new normal”–-whatever that will be. But God will be with us, and other people will walk with us.
Pray for an attitude of expectation of God’s goodness in the midst of change. Talk with others about this.
5. Take action.
Hope is expressed by viewing the future with expectation and actively moving forward.
- Actions for basic physical health: Good nutrition, rest, and exercise enhance our immunity and ability to fight off illness. Washing our hands and disinfecting our environment are helpful, and we also trust God to preserve health.
- Take steps for mental health: Recognize anxiety and depression and seek help, including praying with a friend. Take a break from the news and thinking about stressful things. Prioritize what’s important and simplify your life. Take action to manage stress.
- Identify your purpose in the midst of what you’re experiencing. There may be new gifts and “calling” that God is giving to you. This is a time to grow as a disciple of Jesus and reach out to others with the Good News.
Reflect on the options above. What one or two actions might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to take?
Share these with a friend and pray for one another.
6. Anticipate what God will do in us personally and in nursing relationships, family, and our faith community in the weeks to come!
Meditate on 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.”
Praise be to God!
Mary Thompson, MSN, RN, was the national director of NCF from 1984-2007. Currently she serves as an NCF volunteer in Minnesota and also in her church as a faith community nurse.
Check out a newly published free Bible study, Comfort in Times of Fear on the NCF website along with many other resources, studies, books, and spiritual care tools.