I consider that our present sufferings
are not worth comparing with
the glory that will be revealed in us.
Hope will enable a person to survive even the most terrible of circumstances. This was psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl's conclusion after observing the behavior of fellow concentration camp prisoners (Man's Search for Meaning.) He learned that, when a prisoner had lost hope, he chain-smoked all his cigarettes and would soon die. Prisoners who held on to the hope of a better tomorrow would cut their cigarettes in half and ration them.
Hope can be the difference between life and death. A boy had been badly burned in a horrible accident. His teacher came for a visit after a few days with some school work. She didn't want him to fall behind. Sadly, she didn't feel she accomplished anything. The boy was distracted by the pain; his senses dulled by medication but she tried.
When she returned the next day a nurse asked, "What did you do to that boy? We’ve been worried about him, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live."
The boy explained that he had given up until the teacher arrived. "They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?"
Hope makes a difference in the quality of our lives. In 1981, millionaire industrialist, Eugene Lang, guaranteed a college education to a group of NYC sixth graders. These students were given hope and broke the curse of generational poverty that could have been their destiny. Forty-eight of the 51 graduated from high school. The usual graduation rate for that district was less than 50%. Moreover, the success of these children expanded that hope to others, as rich philanthropists throughout America duplicated Lang's program.
Hope is not the same as optimism or positive thinking. When adversity strikes we need a hope we can trust. Some will buy a lottery tickets hoping that they will win. Most know that they will not and that the odds are against them but they buy tickets anyway, hoping that they will cash in big someday. Some just hope that whatever comes is better than what is happening today. They simply endure the present.
Hope in God is more of a process for living than an answer to a problem. True hope, anchored in the gospel, will open our lives to a future that greater than the solution to a specific problem. Instead of a way out of our difficulty, we are open to a future filled with possibilities, regardless of circumstances. True hope will not let despair over a problem contaminate all that is good in your life.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.