Summer is a great season for hope. This year, hope is especially needed across our country. In fact, hope and health are needed more than ever.
It’s not been an easy Spring. But, as the weather gets warmer, and our earth turn green, we can choose hope moving forward.
For Christians, the source of hope has not changed. No matter the season, the pandemic, or our circumstances, the God of Hope stays the same. And this means we can have hope no matter what.
Here are 5 verses God has given us to spur hope and how hope spurs health.
God gave us the definition of hope. In Romans it says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Romans 11:1).
It may sound silly to some to have assurance in what you cannot see. But for the Believer, it’s this assurance that drives and directs our lives. In science, hope may be defined or described as “a positive motivational state…derived sense of successful goal-directed energy and pathways to meet goals” (1).
And this is okay, too. But it’s the hope of God that goes beyond motivation, beyond energy, and gives a truly life-changing gift.
Romans 5:1 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Psalm 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Amazingly, hope goes beyond spiritual health. God has given us the amazing gift of hope, and it affects us physically and mentally too.
The best part?
Since our hope is in Him, completely based on His promises and being, it’s always there. Our God and our hope is steadfast. Here’s how hope and health can go together this summer:
Hope is an effective buffer against stress and anxious thoughts. Hope reduces depression, and increases feelings of happiness.
Smiling, laughing, and feeling happy (even when faked) can reduce stress and alter chemicals in the brain (1). These chemical changes flood our bodies and further reduce stress and its effects.
Believe it or not, hope itself can reduce physical pain as a natural antithetic as well as the perception of pain.
There’s even a name for it: “cognitive mediation hypothesis.” This hypothesis describes the connection and influence of psychological factors, such as depression and hopelessness, and their relationship to physical pain. In fact, a study of 164 male patients with back pain found that hopelessness has a direct link to depression, and depression can increase physical pain (2, 3).
We can choose hope in God and reduce pain.
Right now, many of us need resilence. Whether we have been affected physically, financially, or mentally by COVID-19, we’ve all been affected. The circumstances seem a bit bleak for the next few months.
But, take heart and have hope. Meditate on God. This hope can increase resilience. Studies have found that the level of hope can predict breast cancer premature mortality (4, 5), and increase survival rates for patients with head and neck cancer versus those who feel pessimistic (6).
Have hope and persevere this summer.
No matter your age, it’s important to keep your body healthy year after year. As discussed in 7 Steps to Healthy Aging, healthy eating, exercise, and sleep are all key components of healthy aging.
And our outlook of hope affects all of these.
Hope improves our motivation to eat well and stay active. Hope reduces or stress response to improve our health and sleep. The sleep correlation between depression and stress vs. hope has been well studied (9, 10). Those with hope sleep better.
And, this allows them to improve their aging and health.
It’s a great time for hope.
And if your hope is in God, nothing’s changed. The God of the Universe is the same today, yesterday, and always. Put your trust and hope in Him this summer. He’s shown us we don’t need to be afraid, He’s with us, and we can rejoice as we hope in the future.