“Don’t give in to envy; keep your focus on God.  Then you will be rewarded and your hope will never fade.”

Proverbs 23:17-18

Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:

  • This passage from the Book of Proverbs is part of the section often titled, “True Riches.” It invites us to value Hope as one of our greatest riches.
  • The Book of Proverbs is treasured because of its universal life wisdom. Imagine it as an ancient “do-this-not-that” compendium still applicable to our 21st century lives.
  • Hope is an element of Advent, the contemplative season which prepares us for Christmas. But even if Advent isn’t part of our spiritual practice, we can still appreciate the extra boost of Hope this proverb offers.
  • Envy — discontentment or resentment, especially about what someone else has or is experiencing — dashes our Hope. It keeps us focused on what’s occurring outside of us. Instead, as the Proverb Writer offers, when we focus on God and the Presence of God within us, we can experience everlasting Hope.
  • Hope thrives when we act in the present, keeping ourselves grounded in what we can do now, based on our current resources and abilities. As we do with Faith, we choose where and how we’ll direct our Hope.
  • Dean Emerita of the College of Allied Health and Nursing at Minnesota State University and creator of the Herth Hope Index (translated into 33 languages), Dr. Kaye Herth discovered in her research that our interconnectedness with others nurtures Hope.
  • Herth also notes correlations between our spirituality and the strength we realize from Hope. In a June 2018 Journal of Religion and Health article, she and her colleagues revealed that spirituality and hope are important aspects of overall well-being. Furthermore, Dr. Herth explains in another of her numerous articles, “Hope encourages reaching out into the future and celebrating the small steps along the way.”

Contemplation Questions:

As you reflect on your life and circumstances, ask yourself:

  • In what ways, if any, do I feel hopeless?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all the ways.
  • Am I “envying” something and/or looking outside myself to find direction, purpose, and fulfillment rather than focusing on what I truly value and what my abilities are now?
    • List, word map, or illustrate whatever “envious” ways apply.
    • Then, list, word map, or illustrate everything you truly value.
  • Am I directing my hope toward something or someone which has already shown me it isn’t willing and/or able to change?
    • List, word map, or illustrate the situations and/or people that aren’t changing.
    • Then, note what you can do now to seek hope elsewhere.
  • What can I do now to direct my focus toward God and the Presence of God within me?
    • List, word map, or illustrate how you can enhance what you’re already doing as part of your spiritual practice (such as prayer, meditation, deep breathing, journaling) and anything additional you can do.
  • What can I do now to:
    • honor and use my own wisdom and experience?
      • List, word map, or illustrate what you can do.
    • honor and connect with trusted others’ wisdom and experience?
      • List, word map, or illustrate:
        • who the people are.
        • what the wisdom and experience is.
        • what you will do to connect and stay connected with them.
  • in what ways can I now tap into other “riches” I have?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all the ways you can imagine.
  • As I contemplate all my answers, what new strategies I am discovering to feel and experience hope prevailing for me now?
    • List, word map, or illustrate everything new you find.
  • As I contemplate all my answers, in what ways do I now feel more hopeful?
    • List, word map, or illustrate all the ways.

Use this devotional anytime you want to nurture your sense of Hope.  As you do, think about directing your Hope forward to what’s ahead, so you can feel God in the midst of whatever is occurring now.   And rather than trying to fix Hope to a specific end-date, such as when the COVID-19 pandemic is completely eradicated, focus on your ability to navigate particular challenges and opportunities.  And, as Dr. Herth recommends, celebrate all the small steps.

© 2021 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.

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