What would you say is the devil’s most effective tool in your life? Think about it—isn’t discouragement at the top of what the enemy throws at you to keep you from living in the joy of the Lord? But here’s the good news: Hope is the cure for discouragement, and you and I can actually build hope into our lives. If you will become intentional about unleashing hope, you’ll discover that you can extinguish the flaming arrow of discouragement which Satan so often throws your way.

In his book, Hope Quotient, Ray Johnston says that “Becoming a person with hope—defeating discouragement and building a new future—is always a result of raising seven hope factors. . .” He gives seven factors, and I want to emphasize the first two.

The first one is to “Recharge Your Batteries.” If hope is to be unleashed in your life, you must continually replenish the things which fuel you. When you run out of fuel, all your expertise, giftedness, and experience are pretty useless. You won’t find a better future if you’re running on an empty tank.

So, let me ask you: What or who is it in your life that is draining you? I have a dear friend who recently recognized that a relationship in her life—a long-time friend—was draining her. This relationship was no longer helpful or pleasant; instead it was unhealthy and getting worse. We had a long talk and I encouraged her to put distance between herself and this person. Now, that wasn’t easy, as you can imagine, but she did it—in as loving a way as possible—and now she realizes just how much that relationship had been draining her. It had crushed her spirit and her hope. Now she is like a butterfly set free from its cocoon.

So one of the things that will definitely drain you is unhealthy people. These are the people you need to recover from after you’re around them. Obviously, I’m not talking about little irritations that happen in any relationship. But if you want to unleash hope in your life, your primary relationships need to be with people who build you up.

Another thing that can drain you is unkind critics. As Ray says in his book, “We all have people in our lives who think they have a ‘spiritual gift’ of criticism and want to ‘help’ the Holy Spirit. His advice is to avoid unkind critics in order to keep spiritually charged. This is the kind of criticism that is meant to harm, not to help.