Every one of us goes through moments when we just want to give up. That might mean walking away from a difficult job, a troubled marriage, or a challenging ministry. How we respond in these moments dictates whether or not we persevere or make a decision we can't undo.
If you're feeling discouraged and hopeless, these five tips can help turn things around.
1. Choose to pursue God
Sometimes when you feel swallowed up by life, it can be hard to commit to things like prayer and reading Scripture. When we struggle with doubt, depression, or anxiety, we can feel unworthy to bring it before God, but that's precisely when it's so critical.
Waiting to feel ready to seek God is a trap. It's one of the ways that we end up trapped in feelings of hopelessness. But when we make the counterintuitive decision to press in when we'd rather run away, it can change the way we see God, our situation, and our place in God's plan.
2. Look for inspiration
When people feel desperate, they can be tempted to look for books, movies, and music that confirms their feelings. The draw of sad music on sad people is more than a cliché. Sometimes it can make us feel a little better to see or hear someone communicate our feelings, but overindulging can just perpetuate the problem.
Find uplifting music and inspiring stories to revel in. Instead of focusing on people in the same place you are, look for stories about transformation, faith, and growth. Find content that puts wind in your sails. If you're not sure where to start, ask people close to you what inspiring stuff they've been reading, watching, and listening to, and allow it to turn your gaze upward.
3. Make healthy decisions
God created our whole bodies to work together. We might discuss various parts of who we are (physical bodies, emotions, thoughts, spirit) as if they're distinct from one another. But the truth is that they intersect in critical ways. Eating healthier and exercising can offer an immediate lift to your spirits and change your perspective.
Sometimes a simple walk in nature can be just as therapeutic as a half-hour run. Ultimately, you want to make sure your body is well fueled and active. This can help you lift your spirit out of the rut it's in and give you the energy to pursue Jesus with your whole heart.
4. Practice thankfulness
One reason we struggle to put our hope in Jesus is that we become completely overwhelmed by difficult things in our lives. But what is the secret of people who go through trying times without losing their hope? Thankfulness.
Taking time to itemize the things we're grateful for helps reframe your perspective. It diminishes the enormity of our struggles and it helps to transform our confusion into clarity. Thankfulness helps you look back and see how God has led you to where you are, which helps you trust Him going forward.
5. Embrace community
Feelings of despair can cause us to withdraw from others, and that's one of the least helpful things we can do. We were created for relationship, and we need people around us to help bear our burdens and cheer us on. If we isolate ourselves when we're feeling demoralized, we end up getting caught up in a cycle of unhealthy self-dialogue.
Not only does community play a valuable role in helping us put our hope in Jesus, but being present in our struggles equips members of our community to care for one another in times of distress.
Don't let hopelessness be the final answer
We all go through emotional highs and lows. If you've been struggling with hopelessness, reach out to someone you trust. Even if it goes against every instinct, start making the same decisions you’d make if you felt enthusiastic about your life and relationship with God. You'll be surprised at the impact it has.
If you find yourself struggling with ongoing feelings of hopelessness or depression, don't be afraid to consult a doctor or counselor. Sometimes those feelings are the result of chemical imbalances and can be remedied with professional intervention.
If you're looking for some inspiration, check out the article "Four Biblical Stories That Show Us Life Isn’t Futile." It will remind you that God excels at stepping in during our darkest moments.