What gives you the strength to carry on when life gets rough?
Living without hope is like burying oneself. – Buddha
Years ago, I worked with a chaplain who did not believe in using the word hope in her vocabulary.
She viewed it as “too Christian.” Hope was wrapped up in a theology of wishful thinking that placed one’s future in the hands of a God she did not believe in.
I have pondered her attitude about hope off and on for years.
Perhaps hope resides too much in the future and sets too many people up for broken dreams and broken hearts. “Disappointment,” according to Eric Hoffer, “is a sort of bankruptcy — the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.”
Sure. I’ve been there.
I have cried out for change and healing and direction in my life only to be more than disappointed when my hopes and expectations were not realized. And, to be frank, each and every time it sucked. I give thanks, however, that these disappointments have yet to extinguish my ability or desire to continue to hope.
William Sloan Coffin once said, “Hope arouses, as nothing else can arouse, a passion for the possible.”
Because of my faith, even in the face of disappointment, I trust that God’s spirit is at work despite the train wreck my life may appear to be at times. In my hope I am embodying that passion for the possible.
Restless the other night with the usual worries I recalled this scripture:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 13:4 NKJV)
Over and over I repeated these words, a mantra filled with tomorrow’s possibilities that soothed me back to sleep.
This is why I am a person of faith.
This is why I treasure my Christian tradition and spiritual practices.
In the times I feel life’s stressors pressing in, I need only to turn to scripture, or prayer, or a fellow spiritual sojourner for strength and guidance while gaining a renewed hope for the future.
That said, I am not convinced hope is exclusively Christian and perhaps, all these years later, neither does that other chaplain.
I have witnessed hospice patients of all spiritual persuasions remain hopeful throughout their disease process. Their hopes may change—hope for healing becomes a hope for comfort, which sometimes moves into the simplest hope of a good bowel movement, and eventually the hope for a peaceful death—but always their eyes are on the horizon, seeking the best that tomorrow may bring.
That’s the tenacity of hope. It’s is about never giving up!
Whatever you are facing, may you find a renewed hope that lightens your burdens and makes your journey a little bit easier.