2020 has been a heck of a year for sure, and many are suffering economic challenges, mental illness, addiction and people have lost hope. Hope is the light that flickers in the dimmest conditions as we struggle to find the switch.
Below are five suggestions offered by CNJ readers to rekindle hope today, and let’s kick those ruts to the curb as we enter the New Year.
Focus on God
Get out of ruts by talking to God and seeking Him and His word. Focusing on the Lord is not only a distraction from the world but will nourish your relationship and helps us focus on what is essential– our walk with Him. Colossians 3:2, we are encouraged to establish our minds on “things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” And Matthew 6:33 also urged us “to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
Take care of your physical health
Readers recommended taking care of our physical health is important. Addressing physical, mental and spiritual needs helps us cope better with stress. Eating healthier, getting adequate sleep, exercise as tolerated, connecting to nature, getting sunshine and fresh air will help aid in physical restoration.
Start to serve others
Helping others helps all of us to refocus your emotional energy and redirect negative thoughts more positively. Plus, it feels good! The International Journal of Behavioral Medicine found giving or serving others increased one’s sense of self-worth. They also found neural evidence from fMRI studies suggesting a link between generosity and happiness in the brain. For example, donating your time, money to charitable organizations activates the same chemicals as eating chocolate. For example, an anonymous Secret Santa in Tennessee paid $65,000 in layaway balances at a Walmart belonging to complete strangers. This is just one example. Allow God to move on your heart. It doesn’t have to involve money.
Do a digital detox
Do a digital detox, yes — we said it! Start looking at taking apps off your phone and log-off of social media for a few days. Limit the noise of television or radio and see how you feel after a few days. Once we cut the chatter and distractions from digital media, we can hear more clearly from the Lord and find a renewed strength.
Start dreaming again
You might not perform at Madison Square Garden or become a Michelin chef, but that’s no excuse for not using your talents. Pray for the right motivation and guidance from the Lord. Joshua Reich a Teaching and Engagement Pastor at Pantano Christian Church in Tucson, AZ. He suggested asking yourself the following questions. What is God showing you and building in you for His purposes? What are your strengths, gifts, and things you are good at performing?
In a recent sermon, Reich shared it’s “important to dream, to write, to let your mind wander. As children, we are good at this, but the older we get, it is easy to limit ourselves. Limiting ourselves is how we end up with regrets, disappointments, and cynicism. This isn’t an exercise in fantasy thinking; we’ll get to reality.” Start listing the things you like to accomplish. It can be taking a vocal or cooking class. Maybe take a course at your local college in person or online. Also, jot down all the things that God has and is doing for you during the process.
Speak words of faith over your life
One follower and reader recommended speaking out your faith. Singer Gretchen Keskeys shared that if everything falls apart, we still have God, have salvation and have a promising future. “And He loves my family more than even I can. I love Romans 8:6 – ‘The mind governed by the flesh is death. The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.’ That is literally true. When I am in my flesh, everything in my life seems to die a little. In the Spirit, I see life. I see hope. I see change. I see freedom. I see Jesus.”
Yes, 2020 has been dozy for sure. However, it’s how deep we are rooted in God, allowing for self-care (don’t be your own worse enemy!), and allowing ourselves to dream again that can help weather the ruts and the storms of life. Remember “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe (Proverbs 18:10).”