Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hope: A Gift of God

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
Hope is God’s great gift to mankind. It was given, according to many different myths, to man after they made the decision to disobey God and thereby unleashed all manner of suffering upon the world. I mention these myths for a reason.

It is my belief that our ancestors weren’t stupid or as ignorant as many people think. That they chose to pass down certain stories from generation to generation should tell us how important those stories were to remember. The wise will study them, for inside each is a kernel of very important truth. The details that are the same across all the myths are the details that hold the truth.

Scripture does not record the instant that hope entered the world, nor does it tell us why hope exists. However, it does tell us that the source of hope is the Holy Spirit. It is an unmerited gift, a grace, that is a sign of God’s unwavering and unfailing love for us.

Why Does God Give Men Hope?

But the woman took off the great lid of the jar (pithos) with her hands and scattered all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men. Only Elpis (Hope) remained there in an unbreakable home within under the rim of the great jar, and did not fly out at the door- Hesiod, Works & Days 54 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.)
If we glean the wisdom from the myths about the creation of men and the entrance of hope into the world, we find a common nugget of truth: hope was given that men might survive the suffering that was unleashed through their disobedience. I can testify to this. I have struggled and suffered a lot in my life. If not for hope, I would not be here today to write this book for you.

What Is the Purpose of Hope?

Hope is a promise made to man that suffering will not last forever. Hope is written in nature. All darkness comes to an end, and winter is only for a season. It can feel like forever when we’re enduring it. It can certainly last a very long time, but it will not last forever. Hope allows us to get to the point where the darkness ends and the spring arrives.
Man is a creature of hope and invention, both of which belie the idea that things cannot be changed. – Tom Clancy
Hope is also the source of dreams. It is the fuel that allows us to believe that something we have never witnessed anyone doing can be done. It is what leads us to innovate and to seek solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Hope promises us that there is something better than what we have now, and it leads us to seek that something.
Of course, the something God really wants us to find is Him. That’s the real reason for hope. It’s a compass that points us toward Heaven. It tells us there is better than what we have now, and it compels us to seek that better world with all of our heart.

Why Do Some People Have More Hope Than Others?

All babies are born with hope, but as with all of God’s gifts, not everyone receives the gift of hope in equal shares. Some are born with the gift of love as their strength, and others are born with the gift of faith as theirs. However, no one is left completely without hope.
Furthermore, much like talents, hope can be cultivated and grown over time. Those who receive a small amount of hope can take action and die a beacon of hope for the world to see if they know how. Hope can also be lost by the choices we make.

Do I have to do anything to receive hope?

The answer to this question is no, and yes at the same time. Hope is given to you. You don’t have to earn the gift. You do, however, have to put the gift to use if you want to benefit from it.

Consider that hope is like rain falling on a field. If we know how and we are prepared to catch it, we can store up the rain so that it continues to bring us an abundance of water even when there has been no rain for months. If, however, we take the rain for granted or we are ignorant about how it works and are unprepared when it falls, we will find that the rain does us little good and soon evaporates so that we can gain no benefit from it at all.

What if I don’t feel hope right now?

You don’t have to feel hope in order for it to be there. You have it, you simply have to make a conscious decision to seek it out and to nurture it. Keep reading, and I promise I will reveal how you can do that in these next few chapters.

Come Back Tomorrow for More Hope

This is the first chapter in my new book A Daily Dose of Hope: 30 Lessons about Hope. Tomorrow I'll cover hope as a theological virtue. I'll explain what a virtue is, the difference between a virtue and a gift, and a little bit about what you can do to start cultivating hope in  your own life.

What Did You Think? 

I'd love to hear what you thought about this chapter. Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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