The Assurance Of Hope
MOST of us go on hoping, even in the face of mankind's continuing struggle with war, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, disease. But all too often our hope may seem forlorn, and there may seem to be little outward reason to expect healing, peace, or happiness. Can there be a reliable reason for hope that goes deeper than wishful thinking?
The teachings of Christ Jesus give just such a sound basis. This hope is not based on simple optimism or positive thinking. Rather it lies in the divine law that underlies the Christianity that Jesus illustrated by his lifework.
The Bible tells of one man in particular who lived in hope of healing. As John's Gospel records, the man waited by the pool of Bethesda in an effort to take advantage of the fabled healing property the water was said to have when the pool became turbulent. But, because he had no one to help him, someone else always got there first--being first was supposedly essential to being benefited. When Jesus arrived, the man found his hope for healing fulfilled--but not in the way he expected! Jesus didn't wait wi th the man for the next opportunity to help him into the water. Jesus turned at once to God's healing power. The Bible records: "Immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked. The physical means for healing the man had depended on had proved to be a false hope. But Christ Jesus brought spiritual healing, which fulfilled the man's true hope.
So often we put our hopes in somehow shifting the material elements that bring humanity so much grief. These misplaced hopes lead to frustration. But when we begin to relinquish these unfulfilled hopes and start to ground our hope in God's revelation of Himself, we begin to understand the depth and fulfillment of true hope. As Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, puts it in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "When the real is attained, which is announced by Science, joy
is no longer a trembler, nor is hope a cheat. Through prayer and through living spiritual, God-given qualities more fully, our hope is strengthened until we see something of the fact that man always has been God's perfect child. God, who is infinite Love, the creator of all good, could not make man--our genuine, spiritual individuality--subject to anything evil, to anything that leads to hopelessness or despair.
In order to see our hopes become truly purified, we have to delve deep into the truth of being. Then we can leave behind false hopes and find the hope which Jesus' works illustrate in the Gospels. He fed the multitude; healed greed, sensuality, dishonesty, and many types of diseases. He raised the dead. As we strive to follow his example and to perceive the kingdom of heaven more fully, we begin to find "the full assurance of hope that the Bible speaks of in Hebrews.
No matter what situation we face, then, we can see that hopelessness has no origin in God and therefore has no reality. It is a misconception of the truth of God and man. Through selfless prayer and living the spiritual truths we learn, we can play our individual part in bringing about a world that no longer faces unending frustration and despair but has every cause for hope.
And if we are tempted to feel despair over world or individual problems, we can restore our hope by understanding that a sound basis for hope has always existed because God, good, is everywhere and He is the giver of all good. True hope, a higher viewpoint, an eternal quality, leads on to spiritual fulfillment.