Find hope: here's where to look

To find hope, we singles need something that actually has the power to deliver.

Oh, there are plenty of promises out there. Watch TV for an hour or two and you'll hear quick fixes and instant solutions. The sad part is these pitches must work, because the advertising industry has been using them for 75 years.

In the United States, especially, we've been convinced we can lead a pain-free life. We're so spoiled that the slightest disappointment feels like a personal insult. We're willing to spend money or time trying to rid ourselves of the slightest aggravation.

Here's a sobering truth: The pain-free life doesn't exist.

When too much discouragement piles up, we can sink into depression or despair. Everything we've tried has failed. Real danger threatens when hopelessness sets in.

Can you find hope in a store?

To eliminate low self worth, many singles head for the mall, their favorite store, or shopping online. We've been programmed to believe treating ourselves will lift our spirits. But this gift lift never lasts long. You can't find hope in material things. 

Believe me, I've tried. It just doesn't work.

The promise of materialism keeps our economy running. Businesses don't sell goods based on logic or need. They sell them by pushing our emotional buttons. Advertising copywriters (and I used to be one) try to pinpoint a problem or perceived need, then offer their product as the solution. And if you can't afford it, hey, just whip out the old credit card!

Don't get me wrong. Lots of things we buy are worthwhile. But don't buy something to impress others, and please, don't buy something because you think it's going to make you all right. It can't. That's too much to ask for.

Keep things in perspective. It's true we feel better when we look our best, but material things do not have the ability to reach into the core of our being and fix what's broken.

If you keep that truth in mind, you'll save yourself a lot of frustration and money over the course of your lifetime.

Can you find hope in your career?

We all need to work, and we should take pride in our work. Mastering a skill and doing a good job are part of our purpose on this planet. We serve God when we serve others. It's healthy to go home at the end of the work day feeling good about yourself.

Remember something about your career, though. As fulfilling as you may find it, your work can end abruptly.  A downturn in the economy can eliminate your job, maybe even the product or service you used to work for. 

If you become disabled, your career may end unexpectedly. To advance, you may have to move somewhere you don't want to go or travel more than you'd like.

Singles who have worked any length of time discover the workplace is far from the utopia they hoped it would be. Too often politics enter in. You don't get recognized for your conscientiousness. Somebody else takes credit for your work. You miss out on a promotion you wanted. And let's be truthful. Sometimes the boss can be a jerk.

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I'm not trying to be pessimistic. Rather, I don't want you to look for hope in your career. Even if you work for yourself, you can't control everything. If you look for your ultimate fulfillment from your job, you're heading for a letdown.

Can you find hope in people?

Many of us singles hope to be married some day. Our great hope is that we will find a good person who will appreciate us, love us, and want to spend the rest of their life with us. That's a godly goal, well worth going after.

Happily married people tell me marriage is the greatest thing on earth when it works right.

Can you find hope in marriage? It's a good dream to have because marriage can provide so much fulfillment and happiness.

We can't give up hope in people because we've been hurt. The unexpected happens and most of the time we're not prepared to deal with it. But that doesn't mean we should duck our head into our shell like a turtle, as many singles do, thinking we're too fragile to survive more pain.

Let's face it. It's hard to forgive people when they hurt us. We expect so much of them, forgetting they're human like us and have weaknesses too. You can put your hope in people--but only if you're willing to suffer some bumps and bruises. It is going to happen.

Can you find hope in escape?

Things have changed since I was young. Sure, there was substance abuse, but it wasn't the epidemic it is now. Turning to pain-numbing things like drugs, alcohol, or risky behavior isn't a source of hope. It only brings more despair.

At first it may work. It stops the hurt, at least temporarily. It helps you forget. But soon it becomes a bad place to go. You're hiding from reality rather than dealing with the true problem.

When you're thinking straight, you realize the goal is to make life better. Substance abuse only appears to make life better. In truth it makes life worse. It never, ever leads anywhere good.

Help is available. If you're on that path or so discouraged you're thinking about it, please talk to someone. There are counselors and therapists ready to listen. Talk to a relative you trust. Reach out to your pastor.

So where can you find hope?

As I write this, I've recently turned 65 years old. I've known my share of pain and disappointment. I have found only one never-fail, true source of hope:  Jesus Christ.

He's not a fantasy. He's not an imaginary friend. He's not a figment of my imagination. He's real, he's powerful, and he loves me. He loves you, too.

Jesus is God, so he never changes. He is always loving, kind, and forgiving. He has your best interests at heart. He's loyal. He sticks with you, no matter what. You can trust him.

What's more, Jesus has the power to change things. Even better, he can change you. He can turn you into the person you want to be. What could be better than that?

You can find hope in Christ, real, revolutionary hope. If you mess up, he's still there. He forgives you. He knows your weaknesses and problems better than you do. He's committed to making you over.

God made you for himself, and he's the only thing that can really satisfy.

You can find hope in God because he can deliver.

When you're at your lowest, you can be confident God has a gigantic, healing love he wants to pour into you. All you need to do is receive it.

Here's hope for the brokenhearted...

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