One of my favorite things to do is watch movies.
Even when I know a movie will have a happy ending, I love the hopeful feeling of rooting for the “good guys” to triumph over obstacles and conflicts.
Hope keeps us going in hard times. It’s fuel for the future. It is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Hope is why we have cures for illnesses and ground-breaking technology that changes the world.
One of the biggest challenges I think we face in life is to never lose hope. It’s hard to wait for desires that never seem to come, or to keep believing when we face disappointment, pain, and pressure.
The song, “Rise Up,” by Andra Day says it best…
You’re broken down and tiredAndra Day
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
Choosing to hope when life is difficult is all about “rising up in spite of the ache.”
In this study, we’ll look at 7 examples of hope in the Bible for when believing gets hard.
These amazing men and women learned how to find hope in God in some very difficult circumstances. They endured the pain of waiting to be parents, the fear of physical danger, the pressure to save lives, the longing to be healed, and the pain-filled sacrifice for a greater purpose.
Let’s take a look at what we can learn to help us find hope when believing gets hard in our own lives.
Hope believes anyway
We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”?
Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.
When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!” Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions.
He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us!
The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.Romans 4:17,19 MSG
Abraham’s faith is astounding. He was 100 years old, had been through decades of infertility, and yet held on to the hope that God would give him a child in such unbelievable circumstances. He faced these disheartening facts that it was humanly impossible to have a child.
His decision to choose to “believe anyway” was firmly grounded in the fact that God was able to do the impossible (Matt 19:26).
Abraham believed God was more powerful than any challenge and could do literally anything. When we believe this deeply, we’ll be confident that God has a great plan and wants the best for us even when what we see in front of us looks hopeless.
Pause and reflect
- Do you believe that God is bigger than your circumstances and your own solutions?
- Do you still believe in God’s faithful promises that he has a good plan for your future? (Jeremiah 29:11)
Hope resists resentment
One day, after Hannah had something to eat and drink in Shiloh, she got up. (The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the door of the Lord’s temple.)  Though she was resentful, she prayed to the LORD while she cried. She made this vow, “LORD of Armies, if you will look at my misery, remember me, and give me a boy, then I will give him to you for as long as he lives. A razor will never be used on his head.”  While Hannah was praying a long time in front of the LORD, Eli was watching her mouth.  She was praying silently. Her voice couldn’t be heard; only her lips were moving. Eli thought she was drunk.  “How long are you going to stay drunk?” Eli asked her. “Get rid of your wine.”  Hannah responded, “No sir. I’m not drunk. I’m depressed. I’m pouring out my heart to the LORD.  Don’t take me to be a good-for-nothing woman. I was praying like this because I’ve been troubled and tormented.”  Eli replied, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your request.”  “May you continue to be kind to me,” she said. Then the woman went her way and ate. She was no longer sad. 1 Samuel 1:9-18 GW
Though Hannah was resentful of Penninah’s torture, her barrenness, her husband’s inability to understand the depths of her pain, and God not changing anything year after year, she prayed to God. She didn’t allow her resentment to stop her from believing God fully understood the extent of her pain and hopelessness and could take action on her behalf.
When believing gets hard, prayer can be one of the first things to go. We do not want to pray to God sometimes, because it just hurts too much. It feels much easier to be resentful.
Choosing to continue to hope has to be a deliberate decision. We have to decide to pray vulnerably when our hearts are in this state. Hannah didn’t just list the facts of her situation; she was vulnerable and she talked about how she felt about the facts.
Vulnerability is where the magic happens. It’s where pain meets purpose. In Hannah’s prayer, her honesty and vulnerability altered her desire from just having a child for herself to a spiritual vision for her child’s life. She went from a selfish to selfless desire in her prayer.
Sometimes, God wants to give us our heart’s desire, but he is waiting for us to change our motives from selfish to spiritual.
Hope has friends
Mordecai: 13 Tell Esther, “Don’t be fooled. Just because you are living inside the king’s palace doesn’t mean that you out of all of the Jews will escape the carnage. You must go before your king.
14 If you stay silent during this time, deliverance for the Jews will come from somewhere, but you, my child, and all of your father’s family will die. And who knows? Perhaps you have been made queen for such a time as this.”
15 Once again, Hathach returned to Queen Esther with Mordecai’s message. In turn she sent a reply back to Mordecai.
Esther: Tell Mordecai, 16 “In preparation for my audience with the king, do this: gather together all the Jews in Susa, and fast and pray for me. Intercede for me. For three days and nights, abstain from all food and drink.
My maids and I will join you in this time. And after the three days, I will go in to the king and plead my people’s case, even though it means breaking the law. And if I die, then I die!” 17 Mordecai left the king’s gate and put all of Esther’s instructions into action.Esther 4:13-17 The Voice
Sometimes it is not enough to pray alone. The challenges we can face may require the prayers of many to be successful (2 Co 1:11).
God had plans for Esther bigger than she could have known. While she was trying to mind her own business, God wanted her to save her people. For a challenge this big, she needed prayer.
Esther was so afraid of being banished or killed by the king for going before him without him calling on her. Those few seconds of waiting for the king to decide her fate must have been excruciating.
When believing gets hard, we need our friends to join us in prayer. It takes a certain level of humility to ask for the prayers of others. You have to have such a deep concern and desire to move God to act that you don’t care who knows about it.
Also, asking other people to pray for you bolsters your hope because you see how much they care about you and they may believe even more than you do.
Hope expects God to answer
For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will answer, O Lord my God.Psalm 38:15 – Amplified Bible
Do you have this kind of relationship with God, where you believe and expect him to answer? Sometimes, I do not have the faith to expect God to answer things quickly regarding my personal life. My faith gets so low that I fail to see how much God really cares for me and wants to answer my prayers. This leads me to not pray specifically and vulnerably about what’s on my heart and mind.
How do you develop the hope that expects God to answer? This kind of bold hope is developed over time through intentional personal Bible study that builds and strengthens our convictions about who God is (Ps 18:2-3 NLT), what his plan is for us (Jer 29:11-13 TLB), and God being our personal God (Is 43:1 Msg). When you combine this with unrelenting prayer (Luke 18:1), God will answer.
There’s a saying that goes, “a closed mouth don’t get fed.” We don’t give God the opportunity to build our faith when we don’t offer up prayers for him to answer. The concept of expecting someone to answer you means believing they are paying attention to you and care about you enough to do something.
Do you think God pays attention to you? Do you believe that God cares enough about you to give you an answer?
Sometimes God says yes, sometimes he says no, but the most difficult answer is “wait.” When God says to wait, we must fight to believe that he does care and he will move when he believes the time is right. (1 Cor 10:13).
Hope doesn’t stop believing
Now, in the crowd that day was a woman who had suffered horribly from continual bleeding for twelve years.  She had endured a great deal under the care of various doctors, yet in spite of spending all she had on their treatments, she was not getting better, but worse. When she heard about Jesus’ healing power, she pushed through the crowd and came up from behind him and touched his prayer shawl.  For she kept saying to herself, “If only I could touch his clothes, I know I will be healed.”  As soon as her hand touched him, her bleeding immediately stopped! She knew it, for she could feel her body instantly being healed of her disease! Mark 5:25-29 TPT
The bleeding woman believed deeply that making physical contact with Jesus would heal her. Her decision to have faith in Jesus got his attention in a crowded group of people while he was on his way to heal someone else.
In her pain, the bleeding woman still chose to seek Jesus. When believing gets hard, do you turn away from God or seek him out?
When the pain clouds our judgment and tells us it’s easier to stop believing, we must choose to obey scriptures like 2 Corinthians 5:7 ERV, “We live by what we believe will happen, not by what we can see.” This verse exudes hope. It gives us the courage to keep hoping when we want to quit.
What scripture can you hold on to to help you continue to believe?
Hope is louder than the crowd
As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”
The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”  Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?” They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!”  Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession. Matthew 20:29,32-34 MSG
These men couldn’t see. We don’t know if they were blind from birth or if their blindness happened some other way, but they couldn’t see.
Then they heard that Jesus was walking by and started shouting. While the blind men were shouting in hopes that Jesus would help them, the crowd tried to “hush them up.” When believing gets hard, the “crowd” is usually our doubt, pain or unbelief trying to hush up our faith that God will come through for us.
The voice of doubt makes us wonder, does God really care about my desires? The voice of pain makes us question, does God care about my pain? And the voice of unbelief questions, does God care?
We have to fight for our faith to be louder than our crowded doubts, pain and unbelief. We have to fight to pray specific prayers, asking for what we want. Jesus noticed the bold faith of these men. Their faith made them shout out to Jesus for what they needed.
One of the ways we can stay more hopeful than “the crowd” is by debunking our doubt, pain and unbelief using the Bible. For every your doubtful thoughts and feelings, find scriptures that prove that God does care and he will help you. Keep these scriptures handy when your doubt, pain and unbelief try to stop you from continuing to hope in God.
Hope hears God
One time the angel of the LORD came to a place called Ophrah and sat under an oak tree. This oak tree belonged to a man named Joash from the Abiezer family. His son Gideon was beating some wheat in a winepress.
He was hiding so that the Midianites could not see the wheat. The angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon and said, “The LORD be with you, brave soldier.”  Then Gideon said, “Pardon me, sir, but if the LORD is with us, why are we having so many troubles?
We heard that he did wonderful things for our ancestors. They tell us that the LORD took them out of Egypt. But now it seems the LORD has left us and is letting the Midianites defeat us.” The LORD turned toward Gideon and said, “Then use your great power and go save the Israelites from the Midianites. I am sending you to save them.” Judges 6:11,13-14 ERV
Gideon is a guy I relate to. He was having a hard time being hopeful in his situation. He was surviving by hiding wheat from the Midianites so he had enough to eat. God knew the situation and called Gideon to help his people.
This challenged Gideon to believe not only that God was with him but that he would help his people. Gideon needed some help reviving his hope in God.
Believing God will help us gets hard for everyone at some point. The thing is, God never stops believing in us. He believes we can and will change. We will hear and believe him. When we do, the impact goes beyond our own personal faith, it inspires and helps build the faith of those around us.
A friend of mine was single for a long time but inspired me because of how hopeful she remained despite setbacks and discouragement. She was older and had reason to doubt that things would work out for her, yet she continued to go on dates and wore her heart on her sleeve. She prayed with others about dating. She humbled herself to seek and follow the advice of spiritual friends about her dating life and, after years and a couple of dating relationships, God blessed her with a husband and a beautiful little boy. She exemplifies continuing to hope when believing gets hard.
When we do the hard work to continue to hope when things get hard, we will also be able to help and inspire those around us. All we have to do is decide to fight to have hope, one day at a time, no matter how hard things get.
Martin Oji is a contributor to Deep Spirituality. He works with college students and young professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Martin Oji is a contributor to Deep Spirituality. He works with college students and young professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area.