8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9, CEB
Recently, in a Wednesday night men’s group, we were discussing the actual mechanics of how we find hope. One of the guys suggested that, while hope is central to a life of faith, it’s often the byproduct of committing to a number of other practices.
Specifically, we talked about living life focusing on the goal we’re working towards. All of us there that night pretty much agreed that we spend way too much time focusing on whatever it is we’re trying to avoid. I’ve struggled with anger lately, and I don’t want to live out of that place. But the more I think about avoiding anger, the more anger seems to hover in my life. When I focus on trying to live out of a place of love, grace, mercy, and respect, and actively seek to embody those traits, there’s less room for anger. This isn’t to say it’s completely gone and I’m never mad, but I do think we can crowd things out, to a certain extent, with a shift in focus. There’s hope in finding that focusing on faithfulness can lead to faithfulness.
This mentality plays out similarly in relationships. I have found that, in marriage, when we, as individuals, focus on all the ways the other person disappoints us, then we breed frustration and resentment and we’ll live in a place of tension for several days or weeks. When we, as individuals, live sacrificially and try to seek the good of the relationship, then we find more joy and hope.
We can spend our lives running away from things and, often, finding frustration. Or, we can spend our lives running towards something and, hopefully, we find faithfulness in the process. Wherever we find faithfulness, we find hope.