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If you feel trapped by your circumstances and can’t see a way out, then I want to show you a new paradigm—the paradigm of hope, which I briefly define as the confident expectation of the goodness of God. Other sources are more comprehensive. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines hope as “confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a scriptural sense.”

Likewise, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words describes hope as “favorable and confident expectation; the happy anticipation of good, the object of which is God.” This kind of hope will precipitate a fundamental shift in your thinking, deep down at the level of your mental reflexes. But I assure you; it will be worth it.

It is my firm conviction that you can live a life—a lifestyle—of hope.

This is not cheap optimism, a pep talk sprinkled with Bible references. Any of my friends can tell you that I’m not one to see the world through rose-colored glasses. I’m talking about real hope, the kind that knows “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

How the Almighty accomplishes this might surprise you. “We exult in our troubles,” said St. Paul, because troubles develop “perseverance; and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope.” It might seem like a convoluted idea that life’s troubles are the beginning of hope. “Wait a minute,” you say to yourself. “That’s certainly not my experience. I’ve seen plenty of trouble, and it hasn’t produced anything in me but the opposite of hope.”

That may be true, but realize that Paul was speaking about the right response to tribulation, not just a gut reaction. And that is the central theme of this book: hope is a choice, not a feeling. Like love, it is more verb than noun, more deliberate.

Perhaps you think it’s too late for you to make such a shift in your thinking, that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But you’re wrong! You are a person, not a “higher” animal, and you were created in the image of a God who dearly loves you. No matter how many years may have slipped through your fingers, thanks to God’s grace and mercy, every minute of your future is still on your side. It’s a matter of choice, not fate.

This blog is an excerpt from The Hope Habit by Dr. Terry Law.