I know so many people that are hopeless because of their actions of the past. I am even one of them at times. Some of the things we have done were from such an empty place, a broken place. The actions themselves may not be as painful as the guilt we were left feeling afterward or the void reasons we did them. For me, I did things that marked me permanently before I even knew myself better or learned I didn’t have to do some of the things I did. I did a lot of things I shouldn’t have for acceptance. I learned through it all that I am accepted anyway but I was left with the ruins of my efforts. That hurts. You become wiser with every experience, every hurt, every joy, but it still hurts. We need hope again. We need to find the excitement in our salvage. How do you get excited about an anxious mind? A sexually abused body? A body that you abused yourself? Maybe you wasted time, or missed an opportunity. These things serve as daily reminders of our mistakes. How do you get excited about what is left when this is it? You have to find the life in it.
When we face these mistakes, the painful part comes from the thought that something is over, something is dead. It could be a chance at something or an image of something is thought to be dead. When we focus on this death, we surrender our hope with it. We no longer believe we can be or look like something and there is nothing there. The death of hope quickly brings the death of joy with it. We need to think about life instead. Life is such a big word. What is life? It is produced, it is productive, it produces. It is movement. It is belief. It creates. It gives. It is fruitful.
The Thessalonians were new to Christianity when Paul wrote them. Since they were new to the faith, they started to lose hope, too, when Jesus didn’t come as Paul explained. They started to question his other explanations as well. This is what Paul wrote to encourage them again in 1 Thessalonians 1:3: “As we pray to God about you, we think of your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope.” He is encouraging them by reminding them about the life they produced. There is life in what drove those actions and it is found in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “and now these things remain: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.” So it’s clear by this that life is produced from the fruit of faith, hope, and love, but you may still wondering how to connect your pain to fruitfulness. I believe it is through others.
Your anxiety from your pain may not feel fruitful in you alone, but could what you learned help someone else? Your mistakes may make you feel disqualified, but could you bring someone else closer because of them? Could your story produce faith in someone else? Hope? Love? Imagine the possibilities if you shared what you gained from your pain, whatever it is. What if your story produced hope in someone else, and then they shared their new hope with someone else? You have just produced life again. Something can be made with what you have left. Get excited about what you can do for someone else. I believe you will find your life again when you sow life in someone else.
When you feel hopeless, be mindful of where your focus is. Is it on the death of something or is it on the possibility of life? I promise there is no benefit in focusing on the death. So why do it? It will not change your situation and it will not change you. Life will. Focus on what produces, what causes movement, what makes you believe, what can be created, and what you can give from it. If you can’t find that in yourself, you will find it through others. Focus on life. You are loved.
Matthew 10:39-If you cling to your life you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.