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How to stay hopeful in a heartbreaking world

Posted July 20

If you hate watching the news because it is depressing, and you hate going on social media because everyone is fighting, and you feel like your emotions are on a never-ending rollercoaster ride that feels like it could derail any moment, then you are as overwhelmed as I am. *insert hand-raising emoji here*

The amount of negativity in the world seems to be spiraling out of control. There are endless stories of murder, failed marriages, death, terrorism, hate crimes, scandals, and everyone seems to butting heads in attempts to agree with one another. It is chilling how people can hate others so much that they are willing to take away the lives of others.

I don’t know about you, but I am completely exhausted.

With all of these things going on in the world, how can we begin to feel as safe as we did before the world started going to shambles? It seems like every day is completely unpredictable, and the fear for our own lives, as well as the lives of our loved ones, is intense and real. Tragedy seems to linger in the shadows, just waiting to spring on us when we least expect it.

To counter all of the tragedies, I find myself spending hours searching for funny videos on YouTube and scrolling through Pinterest boards for uplifting photos and quotes. But then I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt when my efforts to distract myself from reality have done no good for the world around me.

How on earth are we to keep our faith and hold on to hope during such distressing times?

Make a choice

Good versus evil is our favorite battle. We always root for the hero to conquer the villain. The villain is always crushed in the end but not without the hero enduring through painful loss and times of hopelessness in order to succeed in the end.

We cannot pretend the world is sunshine and rainbows when there is real devastation in the world. What we must remember is that through great evil and trial, even greater courage and triumph soon comes to pass.

The night grows darkest at the brink of dawn.

It is okay to feel the pains of the world, but do not dwell on them. Do something about those feelings that shatter your heart. I have come to live by the motto that there are twice as many good things in a single day that outnumber the bad. We just have to search in the right place in our hearts to realize the goodness that surrounds us.

Make the choice to switch your focus from the villain’s devastation to the hero’s courage to keep fighting back.

Holding to hope

In my short 23 years on this earth, I have already witnessed horrifying tragedies that have affected millions upon millions of lives. I have given up hope in times of despair at the thought that people are cruel and just don’t care anymore. About anyone or anything.

How wrong I was to let this thought cross my mind.

In the midst of all this chaos and panic, there is hope. And that hope comes from those who are willing to share pure love with others. Hope comes from those who give their free time to humanitarian relief. Public officials who risk their own lives to save the lives of others. The woman who donates food to the homeless shelter. Those who work to rescue children from dire situations. The man who holds the door for the elderly couple behind him. Selfless, charitable, compassionate and kind people who don’t expect any reward for their actions. Those who completely shove their personal troubles aside to focus on uplifting others in their times of sorrow.

In fearful times, I keep this powerful quote from J. R. R. Tolkien’s beloved novel, "The Hobbit," in mind: “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

It truly is selflessness and love that will turn the tide back to hope.

Keeping your faith

Although we have all seen great catastrophes, disasters and massacres, I have never felt closer to God than I do now. It is true that through all of the hopelessness and fear you need God more than ever before. He gives me the courage I need to keep going with my head held high. He is ever present in the lives of His children, and I imagine His heart especially aches for us in these turbulent times. Even when it seems the entire world is against you, He is not -- nor will He ever be. He is cheering you on to keep going when you would rather surrender to the world around you. No matter how exhausted you feel, do not give up. Keep going. There is goodness in this world.

As J. R. R. Tolkien says in "The Lord of the Rings": “ ... In the end it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it'll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something. There’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.”

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