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May 8, 2016

It is a fact that all human beings must have hope. Being hopeful promotes good health. It benefits us physically, psychologically and emotionally. It is intellectually stimulating to have positive expectations for your life. It is important to be able to face the future without fear. Having hope gives us a sense of well-being about ourselves and our families. It is a feeling that life can be more. It’s an expectation that things do not have to remain the same. Hope represents possibility. It is the promise of something better. It is the belief that situations or conditions will improve.

Our brains are hardwired to search for possibilities and outcomes that are favorable. When those results are denied to us, we become unsure and concerned about what is going to happen. This has an unsettling effect on our ability to make decisions and to choose appropriate options. And if our choices are so limited that none of them present a good outcome, we become discouraged and resignation sets in. When there is an absence of hope, despair takes hold, and despondency becomes overwhelming, leaving a person unable to cope with disappointment and discouragement. The sense of being powerless is crippling.

A life without hope is empty and barren. It can become an ongoing nightmare that seems endless. Attempting to live without it destroys a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem. It takes a toll so severe that people, no matter how courageous they may be, eventually begin to give up and stop trying in life. To constantly be forced to live with anxiety and dread wears a person down. Without hope to provide a light at the end of the tunnel, it can seem impossible to go on.

Because hope is fragile it is easily crushed, and it can take a significant amount of time to rebuild. When a person loses hope they can begin to feel like a victim without respect and dignity. All that they know and believe is stripped away by seemingly unending injustice. When someone is without hope they can become trapped in a reality that is not fulfilling. Unfortunately we don’t realize how powerful hope is until we’ve lost it. To not have it in our lives is to die a little bit each day – until there is nothing left.  

But, thankfully, hope often arrives just when it is needed most. When it appears, it can bring great joy. It renews and restores people’s lives. It energizes and motivates them. It gives individuals the incentive to move forward. It provides the opportunity to change, to improve or to let go. Hope is such a powerful force that it can immediately change a person’s perspective and attitude. It can provide a sense of worth to a person who is struggling. Hope replaces desperation with inspiration. It can wash away the ugliness of the past and give promise to the future. Hope can overcome doubt and fear by giving us courage and making us braver than we ever thought we could be. Hope can transform a person by providing light in the darkness. It gives meaning to our existence because it is the place where dreams are born.  

Hope is present in the soup kitchen that provides hot meals and human contact to men and women who are hungry and alone.

Hope comes with the offer of a job to a single mother who has been desperately seeking employment.

Hope is the lifeline for a father of three who waits for the phone call that will tell him that his time on the transplant list is over and that a donor heart has been found.

Hope drives the research scientists to discover better treatments and eventual cures for the diseases that kill our children.

Hope is what the world experiences when two powerful nations are politically wise enough to resolve their differences without resorting to the horror of war.

Hope rides with the first responders who rush to a scene of danger and willingly put themselves in harm’s way to assist others.

Hope is created by the teacher who refuses to give up on difficult students and continues to support them and motivate them to achieve their potential.

Hope patiently grows as a compassionate therapist slowly helps a 60 year old man regain his speech after a stroke.

Hope resides in a safe place for a woman and her children who have been the victims of domestic violence.

Hope comes to life when a homeless veteran on the street stops being ignored and begins to receive the help that gives him the dignity and respect he deserves.

Hope is provided with each reassuring word spoken by the 911 operator who answers a frantic life and death call.

Hope fills a home when a family adopts a child with a developmental disability and showers them with unconditional love.

Hope can save a life when it is shared by a mental health counselor with someone in emotional pain who is having suicidal thoughts.

Hope flourishes when gender, ethnicity, disability, religious faith, political persuasion and economic status are not allowed to define our humanity.

No one should be forced to face life’s challenges without hope, and we must ensure that they don’t. For those of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy lives filled with promise and potential we have an obligation to use our time and talent to extend hope to those who need it most. There is no excuse that absolves us of the responsibility to assist in creating opportunities that can enrich lives. Hope should be shared at every opportunity because every person needs it and deserves it.

Typically the most effective way to deliver real and life changing hope is through a comprehensive approach that offers concrete solutions to the problems that any of us could face. It has to be a sincere effort that supports individuals when they are struggling and provides them with the tools they need to address their issues in a positive way. Hope naturally occurs when hard work is combined with good intentions. It requires effort and persistence. It creates an atmosphere of change that sweeps away limitations and restrictive conditions.

The deep, meaningful kind of hope that can dramatically improve a person’s life, is the direct result of compassion. If we will simply care, we will do what is necessary to bring hope to a world that so desperately needs it.