Hope: When Hard Feels Easier Than Hope

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Sometimes it’s easier to see the hard than the hope.

Have you ever been in a season where all you could see was the hard? When those seasons become prolonged, our energy is drained, our spirits deflate, and our bodies become weary. And our thoughts?

Our thoughts have the power to help us frame our experiences. We’ll see them through the lens of hard, or we’ll see them through eyes of hope.

 

When we stumbled through years of infertility, focusing on the hard—the lack, the dream unfulfilled—was safer, than hoping that I could one day be a mother.

Sometimes hope feels risky. If we say we hope in something, or we’re waiting for something, or we’re working for something, we put ourselves out there.

We’re risking the chance of failure, and of hope being disappointed.

Sometimes the hard—even though it hurts—becomes comfortable. We learn how to function in it. Our focus stays centered on our circumstances. Those circumstances then control our thoughts.

 

When things are hard, where do our eyes shift? Too often, mine focus on the situation, the circumstances. The hurt feelings incurred.

I’m all about looking for a solution. Or at least the easiest way to get beyond the hard and back into comfortable.

There are times God leaves us in the hard circumstances . . . on purpose. Not because He’s capricious or mean. Not because He’s got a vendetta against us. Not because we’ve crossed the “too-many-sins-committed” line.

 

Sometimes God allows us to reach the end of ourselves so we’ll look beyond what we can do . . . to Jesus.

Honestly? I find it far too easy to look within for my solutions. 

Let’s be honest, when I rely on me for solutions, I have nothing to offer myself besides hopeless commiseration.

I need to look beyond the hard and see the hope. When I take my eyes off of circumstances . . .

When I remove the self-ordained pressure to come up with a solution . . .

that is when I am ready to look to Jesus for help.

The funny thing is? He’s there all along, just waiting for me to come to the place where I see Him.

Where I’ll yield to Him.

Where I’ll trust Him.

 

Sometimes it’s easier to look at the hard because it’s tangible. I FEEL it. I am weighted down by it.

But I need to look to Jesus.

He’s the only real hope-giver.

He’s the only One who can lift the burdens I carry and bear them for me.

He’s the One who refreshes my heart.

First, I must take my eyes off of me and my resources and place them on Him. Not on His hands and what He can do.

But on Jesus Himself.

When I remember that Jesus loves and is walking with me? When I can fix my heart on the truth that He cares about me?

That’s where I find hope.

He’s so much bigger than I am, than we are.

His plans are more amazing than we can comprehend. Even when they include painful steps in the journey, the pain is only there to conform us into the image of Christ.

To carve out hidden sins and smooth into us the ability to reflect Him more clearly to our world.

 

And then we can offer hope to others as they see Him reflecting through us. As they experience His love through us.

What about you? Where is your focus when you’re in the hard times? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when things in your life seem to be falling apart?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes hope feels risky.

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup

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18 thoughts on “Hope: When Hard Feels Easier Than Hope

  1. Lovely post, Jeanne, and really wonderful pictures.

    When I’m in difficult times…like, well, now…I do a couple of things.

    1) Focus on the next necessary thing. Looking beyond that can be discouraging; just do what comes next, and then what comes after that.

    2) Tell myself that I can ditch un-needed tasks. I don’t HAVE to write a blog post every MWF; I can post an ‘out sick’ notice if I’m not up to it. Readers will understand.

    3) Do at least one thing a day that I can finish, and at which I am good. It’s important to reinforce success and achievement.

    4) No bad language, nor negative or despairing speech. I may not be able to control ‘hopeless’ thoughts perfectly, but speaking is a choice.

    5) No watching the news, or checking it online. I cannot give myself a further reason for anger or despair.

    6) No sad songs, or downbeat television programmes or films. This is not to say that one should watch reruns of “I Love Lucy”, or, Heaven forbid, Jerry Lewis…it means that the media message should be vetted to be uplifting and encouraging.

    7) Meditate on and pray for perspective, because surely there is someone in the world, at this very moment, who is in straits far more dire than my own.

    Well, more than a couple, but seven has always been my lucky number.

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  2. This is good stuff. Have you heard Holly’s podcast with Ann Swindell about her book Still Waiting and her struggle with a chronic illness? She compares her life to the story of The Bleeding Woman in Mark 5 — your words today reminded me of her perseverance in hope.

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  3. Focusing on the hard is tangible, so easier. I hadn’t seen it that way but it is true! Somehow I can feel I have a right to focus on the hard! Yet, isn’t it so much more peaceful when focusing on the hope, instead of hard? Why do we make it so hard for ourselves? 🙂 Yes, “His plans are more amazing than we can comprehend.” Thanks for sharing HIs truth to our world J!

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    • Lynn, we humans and our “rights,” huh? I’ve been in that place of feeling like I had a right to focus on the hard too. All we do when our focus is on circumstances, though, is pull away from the goodness and grace God longs to give to us. And yes, it’s much more peaceful when we focus on hope rather than the hard. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, friend.

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  4. There is great truth in your words today. I think you described me when you shared turning to yourself in the hard only provides commiseration. Whew! My default is I’m going to figure it out. But how much easier if we only turn to God.

    Hope has been the one thing I continue to hold onto during difficult times. God blesses me with knowing that He is always there and for some reason I find myself hoping when I need it the most.

    I appreciate you sharing part of your story and teaching us that hope in God is where it’s at! Blessings as you travel through this week.

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    • Mary, I don’t know why I think I can get myself through the hard. And did you notice how many “I’s” were in that sentence? 😉 I find it easier to be self-sufficient than having to trust on someone, even God. That’s a sad default. I’m so limited. I’m ever thankful for God’s patience with me as I learn how to choose to seek Him first in all situations. 🙂

      Thank goodness God is always here for us to hold onto. I am ever thankful for the hope He gives us when we look to Him. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here, Mary!

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  5. Good post Jeanne. It can be hard to not focus on what we want, especially in situations where what we want seems good and right. We just don’t understand why we are being denied.
    In the popular verse, Philippians 4:6-7 there is a line that maybe gets read over too quickly: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding”
    I think “transcending all understanding” speaks to situations where nothing makes sense. It goes beyond our understanding to see how peace could be realized in it if the situation remained as is. It’s in those times that the we are more likely to discover the extent of God’s presence in our lives.
    To quote the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well you might find, you get what you need.”

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    • Phil. 4:6-7 is one of those passages I go back to time and again. I think you’re right. There are those times when God’s ways don’t make sense to our understanding. And we can know His peace when we trust Him in the midst of those times. Walking this life out with God is a continual choosing to humble ourselves and trust His plans, and continual choosing to yield our ways to His, even when we don’t understand.

      By the way, thanks for putting that Rolling Stones song into my head . . . I think. 😉 I actually sing it to my boys sometimes. And yes, we often do get what we need.

      I so appreciate your thoughts here, Gene.

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  6. I love this, Jeanne. I so identify with it. Yes, it can be so easy to focus on the hard. Thank you for this encouraging reminder – “the pain is only there to conform us into the image of Christ.” So true. May we always see the “hard” through the “eyes of hope!” Love and hugs to you!

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  7. Jeanne,Sometimes I feel like the hard is kind of like an old worn shoe….not particularly attractive but it’s so easy to slip back into. I do the same thing – I get so caught up in the circumstances around me that I lose hope. I need to take my eyes off them (circumstances) and lift my eyes to Him where my hope comes from. God is so patient. Time and time again, He watches me have to get to the end of myself until I will finally turn over the reins and say, “Here God, you take over.” What a loving and patient God we have. Beautiful post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    • Bev, what a great analogy. The hard feeling like an old shoe. It’s not attractive, but definitely easier to slip back into instead of risking putting our trust in God. I’ve learned that it’s a deliberate choosing to take my eyes off of the circumstances and put them on the Lord. I’m so glad He is loving and patient!

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  8. Jeanne, this kind of reminds me of my own post for this week, in which I talk about how sticking with our doubts and fears is somehow more comfortable than throwing our lot in with the God who hasn’t lived up to our expectations! I know what you mean about focusing on the hard because it is so tangible. That makes perfect sense. And also the freedom and peace that comes from looking to Jesus, our only real hope. Wonderful words today, my friend!

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    • Lois, I am looking forward to reading your post. I’m finding so many posts overlapping in content this week. I think the Lord might be trying to speak to me . . . 😉

      May we both keep our eyes looking up to Jesus, who is indeed our only real hope.

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