How to Keep Hoping When You Want to Despair

When Jesus saves us, our citizenship is taken out of this world and put into a new, better kingdom. Our passports have changed, although we physically remain in this world. How are Christians supposed to live as pilgrims in this world? Here are three things to keep in mind:

1. Set your mind on the things of heaven.

Christians can easily be tempted to think and live according to things that are of this world: earthly success, ungodliness, pleasure, money, and power (Phil. 3:18–19; 1 Pet. 2:11; 1 John 2:15). However, the orientation of the Christian life—where our eyes look to and where our minds focus—should be on the things of heaven: Christ, godliness, our heavenly inheritance that is heaven itself, and glorification (Rom. 12:2; Col. 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:13–14).

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Phil. 3:17–21)

Daily life, as we know it now, is temporary, transient, and will ultimately pass away (1 Cor. 7:29–31). However, our inheritance in heaven is permanent, unbreakable, and will never get old or wear out.

2. Patience Takes Practice.

We so easily become impatient for God to act on his promises. We become tired of the sins of this world, of the sufferings and trials we endure. Our impatience can lead us to try to fulfill God’s promises ourselves now. We get weary and tired, and it is then that we are most vulnerable to the devil who whispers to us, “Did God really say you have to wait?”

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Pet. 3:8–9)

God calls us to continue trusting him, for he does not forget his promises and he does not lie (2 Pet. 3:9; Isa. 64:4). God tells us he is coming soon, and the reward for waiting will make our time of waiting seem insignificant in comparison (Isa. 40:29–31; 2 Cor. 4:17).

3. Call Upon the Holy Spirit

While we need to make sure we are content with the lot God has given us, our discontent with the brokenness of this world should serve to remind us to keep looking ahead to where our hope is.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:2–5)

Jesus gave us the following encouragement for when we are tempted to collapse under the weight of life’s struggles:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Star Wars tells us, “rebellions are built on hope.” Christians’ rebellion against the world, the flesh, and the devil is fueled by the hope given to us by Christ. Because Jesus became one of us and won the battle against the great forces of evil, he is our solid anchor who will bring us through the battles of this life into the new age of eternal peace and joy.

Leah B.

Leah B. received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry before turning to theology and receiving a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. She writes and lives in California.

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