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Fear not: How to Cultivate Hope in Dark Times

By October 14, 2021blog

By: Jennifer Lockemeyer

Hope hurts. It requires us to acknowledge that we’re not where we want to be, or where we feel we’re supposed to be.

Fear can creep into our lives in lots of tiny ways. It’s easy to fall into patterns of fearful thinking when we believe, for example, the lie that what’s meant for us has somehow passed us by—believing there’s only so much goodness we can find and share, or that others will step into opportunities that were meant to be “ours.” Fearful thinking can also lead us to the assumption that things will always be the way they are now, which is so dangerous. When we believe this, we tend to shut down, sabotage our own growth, and fulfill our own prophecy of permanence.

The good news, however, is that we can be confident these fears are lies because we know in truth that “God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20) Still, it can be difficult to avoid falling into these thought patterns if we are not firmly rooted in hope.

Personally, I find that my heart is most receptive to hope and the truths about God’s perfect timing when I spend time in nature. Recently, in the context of the pandemic and personal holding patterns in my life, I’ve felt barren. As a result, I’ve been reflecting on the image of a garden in winter. It’s sparse and austere looking, but we would never describe it as “barren;” we trust the life cycle of plants and the course of nature.

Did you know a daffodil will only bloom if it’s weathered a freeze? If you store it in your pantry, it will be lifeless. But when the bulb is buried by snow and ice, it will blossom. In the stillness of winter, we are given the rest we need for spring—the restoration we need. 

Likewise, the best way to cultivate hope in our hearts is to allow ourselves to rest and wait, instead of trying to bypass this season by hot-wiring ourselves into energy and growth.

The Bible tells us that creation is groaning, awaiting the restoration of the earth. (Romans 8:22-23) Creation remembers the purity, holiness, and fulfillment of the Garden of Eden. Our spirits, too, whisper reminders, and the spark of that reality flickers within us. It hurts! We aren’t in the place where we were created to be—abiding unhindered with the Father. But this longing heals us, reminding us of our true nature and destiny. 

“He has placed eternity in our hearts yet has also made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He will sprout up our blessings when they are in season, and these blessings are a foreshadow of the glory being stored for us in eternity. We will not keep our fears at bay by striving after new things. Instead, God casts out fear when we rest in His perfect love. And wait.

By resting, we are cultivating this hope that heals us, sustains us, and will not disappoint us.

Jennifer Lockemeyer is a graduate of Pepperdine University, where she majored in Intercultural Communications and Creative Writing. She works in Houston as a writer for Living Water International, an organization providing safe water access around the world. She is passionate about communicating God’s nature through the written word.