"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
“I have plans to give you a future full of hope…When you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you” (Jer 29:11-13).
Without hope, life is not worth living. In our world today there is a sense of despair, the complete absence of hope. Yet the word ‘hope’ slips glibly off the tongue: I hope I get this job, pass this exam; I hope the doctor can relieve this pain. In this sense of hope we are dependent on human resources. When I apply for a job someone who does not know me is going to weigh me in the balance and judge whether I am adequate for the task. The doctor is going to do his best, use his knowledge and experience to make me well. Yet I hope. How do I feel if those on whom so much of my life depends cannot fulfil my hope? Will I despair; become depressed; give up my efforts?
All these hopes are little hopes and if they do not materialise, if they seem to be dashed, we are in danger of losing all hope. It is like a jig-saw puzzle: the more pieces we lose, the less likely we are to appreciate the picture. We need to have that picture on the cover of the box to help us achieve our goal.
To have the little hopes in life, I need to have Another on whom I really can depend; someone who knows what the picture of my life is in his plan for me. As the psalmist says, “The Lord is my rock and my stronghold; what shall I fear?” (Ps18:2).
The hope we have in God is like an anchor, the symbol of Christian hope. The anchor, strong, safe, firm, grasps the sea bed and takes a firm hold, keeping the ship secure against the might of the sea. Translating that symbol into my own life, I see my hope in God embedded in my faith, a faith that assures me that God has his plans for me and that I can depend on him. Through Jeremiah the prophet, God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for your interest and wellbeing” (Jer.29:11). Thus, my hope in life is based on God and in his love for me, for I am the work of his hands. So much does he love me and will never forget me that he has carved my name on the palm of his hand (Is 49:15). My image, the person he wants me to become, is ever before him.
John XXIII, referred to as the ‘caretaker Pope’, realising the widening gap between the Church and the world of his day, wrote: “An old world is disappearing. Another one is being formed, and with this I am trying to conceal some good seed or other that will have its springtime, even if it is somewhat delayed, and comes after I’m dead.”
Thomas Merton writes: “One must not give in to defeatism and despair: just as one must hope for life in a mortal illness which has been declared incurable.”
Even when dark clouds surround us, even when everything appears to be falling apart, we must continue to believe for a better future. Whatever the problem, there is a way forward.
So, my hope is in God alone because I believe in him; this is my faith. It is in him I put my faith and that faith, my belief in God’s love for me and all his creation, is the bedrock in which like an anchor, I put my hope. Together with that hope and faith is my love and fidelity in responding to that God in whom I live and move and have my being. In him I place my hope.
“Hold fast to the hope that lies before us.
This we have as an anchor of the soul” (Heb 6:15-19).
Lord, fill me with hope and an abiding trust that you are with me in all my joys and sorrows. Help me to remember in my doubt that you said you were the Way, not the answer. You did not ask me to succeed but to be faithful. You did not promise heaven tomorrow, but you said you would remain with us to the end of time. Each new day is your gift to me, help me to walk it in the truth of the Gospel. Amen