North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose

    Dr. Charles Snyder was a specialist in positive psychology and is best known for his work on hope and forgiveness. His theory of hope emphasized goal-directed thinking and that active hope in a person’s life correlates with increased joy, laughter, self-confidence, and positive coping mechanisms. He also wrote the book, “The Psychology of Hope: You Can Get There from Here”. While love is the greatest antidote for life’s problems, hope is one of the top three spiritual tools a Christian has at their disposal.    It’s important to understand that hope is not wishful thinking. It’s a powerful force that’s an indispensable part of a person’s spiritual equipment. To appreciate how important hope is think of what happens when a person loses it. The loss of hope is turning out to be a strong indicator and sign that a person may be prone to suicide. This suggests to me that hope is a matter of life and death! Discouragement, depression, disinterest, despair, defeat, distrust, and disaster all creep in when a person loses hope. Yet, the Bible says, “When we run into problems and trials, we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment” (Romans 5:3-5).

    Recently, a powerful tornado bullied its way through the small town of Century where Teresa and I currently reside. It was a storm that caught people by surprise and left many of our neighbors lacking for the simplest of necessities. For some, their houses were completely destroyed. Teresa and I took shelter in a closet in our house. When we emerged from our home to walk down the street and check on our neighbors, a foreboding spirit was all around. As we talked to them, our hearts turned from being alarmed to feeling burdened. I told Teresa, “These folks struggle every day like we all do, but I’m afraid they’re going to lose hope because of this.” She responded by saying, “We’ve got to give hope back to them. Our house was spared and we’re here for a reason. We’ve got to do something!” So we did the best thing we could at the moment; we prayed. I reached for my Bible that evening and was moved by the Spirit to consider the power of hope.

    In my meditation on the Word and during my prayer I recalled something my Dad told me years ago, “If you can give somebody a little hope during a tough time, they can usually get through it.” Through this recovery experience and relief effort I’ve discovered he was absolutely right! Hope allows a person to look confidently forward and take hold of the future. It also enables us to practice the power of positive thinking, set goals to improve ourselves, and to live with purpose. Even in the midst of our storms, God says, “I am your hope!” Being hopeful is considered by some to be a healthy mental state. I happen to believe it’s actually more spiritual than anything. To practice hope is to believe that things we desire will one day come true. This attitude carries over into our prayer life, because every sincere prayer is answered. God is good. And He does reward those who trust Him enough to seek Him and to do His will. Hope that helps is not centered merely in things, but in the spiritual realities of God. The Lord of hope, who is with us now, will be ours forever!

    We were without electricity in our house after the tornado, along with several hundred more homes in our area. But the next morning we we’re up early and Teresa said. “We’re going to do what we can for this town and we’re going to call it “Operation Hope”. I liked it and a new opportunity for service was born. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, when you did it (gave food, water, clothing, hospitality) to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me” (Matthew 25:40). We committed ourselves to the simple act of helping our neighbors in Jesus’ name. And through the power of hope and the positive thought that things can and will get better, many of our friends, family, and local businesses started collecting and preparing items that our neighbors needed.

    The Christian life is not easy. It may involve many kinds of experiences which are unpleasant and at times painful. In a failure to see suffering as normal to discipleship some will doubt the worth of their faith. But Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He also said, “I will not abandon you and leave you comfortless” (John 14:18). “I have told you these things because on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

    We must all deny ourselves, take up our own cross, and follow him! When suffering comes to us, whether it be in the form of loneliness, physical distress, loss, or temptation, try not to be resentful but rather thank God for the privilege of using your discomforts to grow in His grace and to conform to the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ, who suffered on the cross that we might be saved.

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a teacher, U.S. Army Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community. His most recent book is titled: “How the Race Was Won: A Coming of Age Story About Running”. He can be reached by email: 


Posted by on Feb 26 2016. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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