Alexander Pope wrote "An Essay of Man" in 1733 and from it we get that famous saying "Hope springs eternal"...
In the human breast
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come."
To me Mr. Pope wasn't exactly giving us much "hope" when he wrote this, because people usually use this phrase when they feel there is very little hope of what they want to ever happen and it is usually accompanied with a big 'ol sigh.
So what is Hope... the Bible has lot to say about it. There are so many scriptures about hope; when you have hope, when you do not, even when hope is delayed. So I would say that it is right up there with faith. Hebrews 11:1 states "For we know that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen...
So actually you have to have hope to get to faith. I mean, what would there be (substance) to have faith to believe for, if you did not have the desire to to see it come to pass. Basically you can try to conjure up the faith to believe that you are going to have a very productive day at home or work, but you have to at least desire for it to happen right? Or what about this ...you can try to have the faith to get through a hard trial, but you have to want and desire for it to happen...You have to HOPE and desire to live this life in order to have the faith each day to make it happen...right?
This brings me to the sad part...a few weeks ago a lovely woman whom I had met for the first time, shared before a group of women, myself included, how the Lord was working in her life. She eloquently shared how even though she had some baggage in the past (as we all do), she felt that she was being restored and given another opportunity to get things right. We applauded her and many stood and showered her with sincere love and congratulatory hugs. We were all so blessed by her open and honest testimony and left that day feeling hopeful (there's that word) for a brighter future for not only her, but every woman that was in attendance...less than two weeks later, this same precious young woman took her own life...
It was a shock to all of us...I having just met her saw a bright, bubbly, super-friendly woman. Her friends confirmed that she was just that and more. She was a generous, loving, kind person...a shining star. What we did not see was the pain she had endured, the pain that convinced her in a moment of despair, in a moment when she had lost hope that she was any worth to her family, her friends, even herself. She lost hope that the pain would one day go away, that this life would ever get any better...
I do not speak disparagingly about this precious woman, because I have been there. I may not have experienced the same pain as she did, but I was at the point that I felt worthless and had no hope that tomorrow would be worth sticking around for. I was a young woman in my early 20's who did not have a relationship with the Lord at the time. I had tons of baggage that I was trying to carry all by myself; the baggage of bad decisions, of bad mistakes, and the baggage of no self worth continually weighed me down; until one night I decided to do what demonic voices were telling me to do and to end it all. Thank God my husband got me to the hospital in time to get help. The counselor that I had to talk to before being released, asked me in a very bored and tired voice "Why did you do it?" She probably had asked that question many times before unfortunately, no wonder she never bothered to look up at me as she wrote on her pad. I answered her in a similar bored and tired voice " I don't know...I just didn't want to go on, I wanted it all to stop." With that the paper work was completed and I was sent home with a referral to see a counselor in the next few days which I never did. Thanks be to God a short time later I surrendered my heart and life over to the Lord Jesus Christ who gave me the Hope I needed to make a change for the better in my life. When I look at my son, his wife, my grandchildren, I shudder to think that I could have missed all of the joy that I get from just being a part of their lives. The Lord gave me the hope that I needed to have the faith to believe that things CAN get better, that tomorrow is another day, a new beginning, that joy WILL come in the morning.
I recently shared with a friend about a dream I had several years ago and I pray that I never have it again. In the dream, I was allowed to experience the depths of despair, hopelessness far greater than I have ever felt in my life. When this feeling of not having ANY Hope fell on me in the dream, it was like being in a black hole with no way of getting out...it was a very dark place. When I awoke, and after thanking and praising God for a while, I realized that the dream was for a purpose. The purpose being I NEVER want to allow myself to get to that point AND I never want anyone else to feel that way. Since then it has driven me to be an encouragement to people. To let people know in a way the Lord directs me, that they are important and special in God's eyes; that we all have worth to Him and our roles in this life are so important to those all around us. NEVER LOSE HOPE.
This post all came to mind as I was decorating the house for Spring. All the winter stuff is down and put away, things that are light and bright are in their place. The days are sunnier and longer; the birds sing louder. The winter was cold, cloudy and some days almost depressing, but now it is a new season, a new beginning. God is so cool like that, He could have said "Well folks, its going to be winter forever", but He knows that we needed a "spring", we need to refresh our Hope. Thank you Lord for giving us the Hope that we need in order to have the faith to believe for a brighter tomorrow...our HOPE is in You!
"...in the Bible, HOPE is no longer a passion for the possible, but a passion for the Promise."
-Lewis Smedes, Daily Bread December 19, 1996