A Prescription for Hope
by JASMIN HOWELL
“You will keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You.”
My husband Mike was pacing the living room floor as I watched him from the couch. I knew something wasn’t quite right. He wasn’t the kind of person given to fear, but he had just told me about a news report that had sent his mind into a tailspin. And as he shared part of it with me, my fear increased tenfold.
My imagination started running wild with the “what ifs” that culture was placing in my mind about the future in a COVID world; a world that was feeling increasingly unstable as the impacts of the virus affected many aspects of life.
Recently our second baby boy had been born and there was a lot of joy in our home since little Charlie had joined our family. But my entire pregnancy — and his birth — had taken place in the middle of this season. The past nine months had been strange and surreal. And I was all too eager to put words like “COVID-19” and “Coronavirus” behind me. Between a steady diet of the news and the swirl of my emotions and foreign hormones, I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I could barely comprehend what to eat for breakfast, let alone begin to process the unfolding of unprecedented world events. As I watched Mike pacing around the room, I panicked and started to cry.
He immediately sat down beside me and took my hands.
“I’m so sorry. We are commanded not to fear, but I have really been battling it the past few weeks. I don’t want to give in to these thoughts or dwell on things outside of my control.”
“Me neither!” I choked out through tears.
“I think we need to start speaking the promises and character of God.” He said with a certainty that I wish I felt.
I nodded, but my anxiety was still escalating, and I began to feel lightheaded. Mike squeezed my hand then stood up and started pacing again, but this time he was praying.
“Lord, You know our hearts. You know what is happening in our world, and how scary it can feel, but we trust in You — not in governments, or the medical system, or policies, or our personal freedoms. None of these things can save us. No change in world circumstances can bring us lasting hope, so Lord we proclaim Your truth. You are our hope.”
With those words, I exhaled and stopped crying. I breathed in deeply, relief filling my heart. Mike paused and began to recall the promises of God in a bold, unwavering voice, “Lord, You are a good Father who cares for His children. You are an anchor for our wayward hearts…” A stream of comforting words spilled from my husband’s mouth and washed over my weary heart. As I set my mind and heart fully on them and silently prayed, my breathing became calm and steady.
My husband continued to pray with a heart of thanksgiving. “Thank You, Lord, for everything You have done for us! Thank You for setting us free from the power of sin and death through Your work on the Cross. Thank You that You are an ever present help in trouble. We trust You!”
This prayer of proclamation continued and, with each word, the gaze of my mind became fixed on my Lord, as was my husband’s. And the heavy weight of fear — so palpable in the room before — was replaced with peace. Hope began to fill our hearts, buoying us above our earthly concerns as we reminded each other that in an uncertain world some things are certain, unshakable, immovable. The Word of God. The Person of Jesus Christ.
. . .
Praying God’s promises and character out loud together felt strange at first. But over time, saying these truths aloud became a more natural response to any anxiety we felt — like pulling out a compass regularly to orient ourselves in the right direction.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter reminds the church that “…[God] has given us his very great and precious promises…” (2 Peter 1:4 NIV). These great and precious promises are available to us. But we must know them, and know Him. In a world captivated by fear, this is our prescription for daily hope.
I love the way Oswald Chambers applied this scriptural truth. He wrote, “Remember Whose you are and Whom you serve. Provoke yourself by recollection, and your affection for God will increase tenfold; your imagination will not be starved any longer, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.”
This quote brings to mind a few things my husband and I have learned this year, and that I am so eager to share with you.
1. Remember Whose You Are
If your mind has been a swirl of fear or your is heart weighed down by heavy burdens, then remember Whose you are.
The single most important change we have made in our marriage in the past number of months has been encouraging each other to keep our hearts and minds on Christ. We do not need to be mastered by our fears because we belong to Jesus. Reorienting our minds to this truth has had an amazing impact on our moods, the atmosphere of our home, how we speak, how we pray, how we parent, and more.
Start a list that you can refer to regularly and keep a record of the characteristics and promises of God that you find as you read His Word. We tend to forget what we know when life presses us with difficulty, so having a list that you can read quickly will go a long way when you need to be reminded of truth, or when someone you love needs encouragement!
Reading this list is like opening up a compass when you feel lost in anxiety. Breathe it. Pray it. Proclaim it out loud. Feel the hope of Christ.
2. Provoke Yourself by Recollection
His Word says, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You…” (Is. 26:3). We focus on what is filling our mind. If your thoughts are entertaining scary reports, social media unrest, and the foreboding of the world, then I encourage you to fill your mind instead with the Word of God, that you would experience His peace.
Immerse your mind in portions of Scripture that are rich with descriptions of God’s character and nature. If you don’t know where to start reading, I recommend Psalm 91. It is so rich with encouragement from the Lord! In this one Psalm we hear:
He is my rest (v. 1). He is my refuge (v. 2). He will save me (v. 3). His faithfulness will be my shield (v. 4). Because of Him, I will not fear (v. 5). No harm will overtake me (v. 10). Angels will guard me (v. 11). He protects me (v.14). He will answer me when I call and He will satisfy me (v.15 NIV)!
When you have truths like these tucked away in your mind, you can recall them in times of need and recite them to yourself or others. Note: You don’t have to be married to do this! Speak truth out loud to your sibling, your roommate, your favorite furry companion, or just proclaim it out loud to yourself.
3. Your Affection for God Will Increase
When we love someone, thoughts of them fill our mind and joy fills our heart. It is the same with the Lord. Practically fill your mind with all that is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. (See Philippians 4:8.) The more we know of Him, the more we will love Him, and the less our minds can be consumed by fears and worries.
Increasing your affection for the Lord can be simple. Worship the Lord in song, or turn on music that helps you worship. Pray through His attributes out loud and thank Him for each one! A heart of gratitude always sets my mind on God’s goodness and remembering His blessings always fills my heart with love for Him! Or turn outward and bless a friend or family member by sharing biblical encouragement as you practically serve them. Let your increasing affection for the Lord spill over and touch others.
. . .
As Chambers concludes, when you recall God’s Word and set your mind to dwell on His truth alone, “your hope will be inexpressibly bright”! I don’t know about you, but I really need a bright and lasting hope in these days!
When our minds are full of His Word, our hearts will be full of the hope that comes from setting our gaze on Jesus. And by speaking His great and precious promises aloud, we proclaim them to ourselves — and to those around us — as a means of reminding ourselves Whose we are and Whom we serve.