A recent article on the BBC website sets out to tell us ‘why we should all hold on to hope.’
‘Through difficult times, the daily grind and the problems that we encounter in our lives, staying positive and committing to change can be a real challenge. That’s where hope comes in.
What, then, do we need to know about the importance of hope?
1. ‘Hope helps us to reach our goals.’ Unlike optimism, which is passive, hope is active. ‘Hope motivates us into taking positive actions that can lead to positive results.’ True hope is realistic and so acknowledges the reality of the threats that face us and finds a way round these.
2. ‘Hope helps us to see setbacks as a chance for improvement.’ We all experience disappointments in life. Hope helps us to face up to these, see them as opportunities to learn, and to plan a constructive way forward.
3. ‘Hope boosts our happiness.’ Put simply, hope makes us feel better. ‘Looking on the bright side of life’ increases our happiness. It actually boosts our mental well-being.
4. ‘Hope prevents us from “catastrophising”.’ An attitude of despair and an attitude of hope may both lead in the same direction. But the road that is built in hope is more pleasant to travel.
5. ‘Hope can help us to heal.’ A change in mindset can lead to a change in neurochemistry. The release of natural endorphins and enkephalins can actually ease our sense of pain and perhaps even affect fundamental processes such as breathing and circulation.
Well, I feel better already!
But, hang on, isn’t something missing from these handy hints and tips?
Yes, there is. There is no mention of any object of hope.
No suggestion that for hope to be any more than wishful thinking we need to have something, or someone, to hope in.
How different, and how much more solid, is the Christian hope!
‘Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.’ (Psa 31:24)
‘Put your hope in God.’ (Psa 42:11)
‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. (Isa 40:31)
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.’ (Rom 15:13)
As long as we cling on to hope itself, we are merely whistling in the dark. Let us, rather, cling hopefully to our God and Saviour, and we shall find real strength for the future.