In "the new economy blog" published on CSMonitor.com on Inauguration Day, the author asked: "Obama speech: Can hope trump deflation?" And he commented that hope "is often overlooked as a powerful lever for a foundering nation, maybe because it's so difficult to measure." He added, "... it is hard for money men and women to figure out how to engender hope when the numbers are so gloomy" (Jan. 20)
There's a way to pierce this gloom and set hope free. The Psalmist described it beautifully in these words: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.... the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life" (42:5, 8).
This isn't just hope for the good times, as in "I hope we get a good parking space." This is hope that even in the darkness, the divine light will actually sing to those in need. This hope isn't placed in material things like stock markets, paychecks, or even a government bailout. Each of those things is finite – and suggests that some of us will have them and some won't. But hope that rests in God, in divine Love, provides a wholly different context for life.
This context is spiritual and requires us to see ourselves in spiritual terms. Truly we are children of the divine Father who loves each of His children and wants only what is best for them. God is not changeable or punishing, but is divine Principle whose purpose is to purify those who have done wrong and to protect those who are innocent. In both cases, the result is a blessing.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote: "Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," p. 113).
This statement outlines the responsibilities that come with Spirit-based hope. Each of us can strengthen our hopes and those of others by keeping Love "at the helm of thought." We can act with love toward our neighbors – helping them out when there's an opportunity to do so, praying for those in need in the community and for others around the world. And praying for world leaders by seeing them as able to accept and live in harmony with divine Love's intelligence and goodness.
We can maintain this hopefulness not because we "will" ourselves to be happy and hopeful but because we put our trust in divine Love and let it guide our decisions, large and small. This hopeful outlook will uplift the people around us and may even change outcomes – instill in people the energy to try something new or to persevere in a project that could help themselves and others. And it will give us added strength and courage as well.
There is another contribution we can make, and that is to face bad economic or other news by declaring, silently perhaps, that despite the clouds of gloom, the reality is that God is still in control. There is biblical authority for that conviction.
In what could have been the disciple Peter's first encounter with Jesus, the fisherman allowed Jesus to use his ship as a kind of pulpit from which to preach. After he was finished speaking, Jesus told him to put down his nets. Peter told Jesus that they had fished all night without success, but then went on "nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net" (Luke 5:5). Peter's willingness to hope was well rewarded. He caught so many fish that he called on his partner to help him, and the result was that both ships nearly sank.
When hopelessness argues, "I've caught nothing, so why try?" we can respond with Peter's word, "nevertheless ...." If we let divine Love empower our hope, and are obedient to its guidance, our nets will also be full.