Hope is one of the great “intangibles” like love, compassion, and understanding that we all need to thrive. The human race is poor indeed without hope. We need hope to get out of bed every morning, to turn a doorknob and trust that it will open the door, to put a key into lock and trust it will turn, to use our money and pay for our transactions, and to keep doing this day after day as we work toward a future for our families. But, what happens when you lose hope?
First, nothing. You go through the motions of the day mindlessly as an act of habit for a time. But after a while something else creeps in: Doubt. Then you ask yourself, “What’s the point?”. Logic cannot explain why we move forward in life. Logic would say that we do it to pay the bills. Why? Because we need a home for our families. But, if there’s no hope for a future – what is the point? Then the questions that lead to real self-destruction come: That drug might help me, why not take it? That sexual interlude might make me feel better, why not do it? That shiny new thing might make me feel better, why not buy it? In the case of Nadia Sulman, “More kids might make me feel better, why not have 8 more?”. But I digress… The problem is: The why-not-actions have to be performed over and over again to try to fill the hole in the spirit where hope used to be. Pretty soon you have a negative feedback loop with all the power of a black-hole that will suck the life from you and everyone around you. You see, when hope is lost by one, others suffer. ALWAYS. Why? Because you are someone’s brother/sister, father/mother, son/daughter, neighbor, friend, example, employee/employer, and a community member. All are affected by your actions. We become selfish when we lose hope and selfishness can be as destructive as an emotional-atom-bomb.
I refer to certain people as “Emotional Vampires or Emotional Terrorists”. You know the type – they always see the glass not just half-empty but “just about empty”. No matter your encouraging words, they have an overwhelmingly negative retort. Leaving you and those around them drained.
A pessimist is defined by John Maxwell this way: “A pessimist is a person who, regardless of the present is disappointed in the future.”
What makes an “emotional vampire/emotional terrorist” aka a pessimist? Bad circumstances? Bad upbringing? Just a bad break? A bad decision? I think it’s hope that comes from faith. Hopeful people recover from a bad decision. Those who don’t have hope – usually don’t. People around the world and here at home have serious problems and some live in dire circumstances and still they have hope. So it must be more than just external circumstances.
Consider Job the long-suffering servant of God. When he lost his possessions, his family, his health, his friends, his livelihood, and his home Job clung to one thing: Faith. Faith translates into hope. So it’s not surprising that Hope is mentioned many times in the Book of Job.
Job 8:13 “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.”
Job 11:18 “You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.”
That’s how I sleep at night. I rest in the word’s of God and my faith. I have hope that the Lord will see me safely through the night. This is not easy for me as the victim of TWO home invasions. But I realized, at an early age, that I had a choice: Be paralyzed by fear or Live in Hope.
For those of you who lament, ‘Yeah but that’s the Old Guy in the Old Testament’ then let me reference someone who is both hopeful and living in difficult circumstances today: The Dalai Lama. He was exiled from his own country. He is a man without a country and without a family and without a true home, yet he is hopeful and despite his circumstances happy.
“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”
— Dalai Lama XIV
“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways–either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.”
— Dalai Lama XIV
So to those of you who have hope I ask you this: What gives you hope? What’s your bedrock of faith that hope springs from?