Are dark clouds looming over your life? If so, it doesn’t necessarily follow that a storm is approaching. However, even if today were to be your darkest day, the tempest will pass if you wait it out. That’s why you must keep the flame of hope burning in your heart. Storms may rage, but don’t let them extinguish hope.
What is hope? It is the opposite of despair. It is the ability to go on even when things appear hopeless. It is the knowledge that, however difficult the situation, this too will pass. Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive; writes Erik H. Erikson, If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired.
Hope is a quiet optimism, a feeling that things will work out, perhaps not as desired, but for the best. Hope is the strength to be patient and persist in difficult times. When faced with a challenge, don’t hope it becomes easier, hope you become stronger. Remember, no one grows old by living a number of years; they grow old by abandoning hope.
While in his fifties, Tom had a heart attack. He looked death in the face for the first time and found the experience depressing. He grew lethargic and life came to a halt. It was almost as if he were already dead. But with a little encouragement, he rekindled the flame of hope, hope for a better life, for a return to normal. So, re-energized, he stopped smoking, changed his eating habits, and exercised regularly. Today, Tom is once again enjoying life.
Doesn’t this simple example prove that hope is always a better choice than despair? Charles Sawyer thinks so, for he wrote, Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so indispensable, none so powerful, as hope. Without hope men are only half alive. With hope they dream and think and work. John Johnson also makes a powerful comment: Men and women are limited not by the place of their birth, not by the color of their skin, but by the size of their hope.
John F. Kennedy
In August 1943, torpedo boat PT-109 was rammed and cut in half by a Japanese destroyer during a night attack in the Solomon Islands. The commander of the boat, John F. Kennedy, was thrown to the deck. His back, previously injured in a university football game, was re-injured. Despite this, he gathered the ten surviving members of his crew. After placing a badly injured crew member into a life jacket, Kennedy held on to one of the straps with his teeth and towed the wounded man as they all swam for shore. Five hours later, they reached land and were able to rest, but could find no help. It was only after swimming to two other islands that they found natives with access to the U.S. base. They were rescued after a native delivered a message written by Kennedy on a coconut. The situation seemed hopeless, but because Kennedy clung onto hope he found the strength to lead his crew members to safety.
Bruce Barton writes, Before you give up hope, turn back and read the attacks that were made on Lincoln. Lincoln experienced much more than attacks. His life consisted of one hardship followed by another. Yet, he managed to keep hope alive. Take a look at the outline of his life.
1816: Seven-year-old Lincoln had to work to support his family after they were evicted.
1818: His mother died.
1831: Failed in business.
1832: Defeated for legislature.
1832: Lost his job and couldnt get into law school.
1833: Declared bankruptcy and spent the next 17 years of his life paying off the money he borrowed from friends to start his business.
1834: Was defeated for legislature again.
1835: Was engaged to be married, but his sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
1836: Had a nervous breakdown and spent the next six months in bed.
1838: Was defeated in becoming the speaker of the state legislature.
1840: Was defeated in becoming elector.
1843: Was defeated for Congress
1846: Was Defeated for Congress.
1848: Was defeated for Congress again.
1849: Was rejected for the job of land officer in his home state.
1854: Was defeated for Senate.
1856: Was defeated for Vice President — got fewer than 100 votes.
1858: Was defeated for Senate for the third time.
1860: Was elected president of the United States.
Imagine if Kennedy or Lincoln had given in to despair. Fortunately for the world, they did not. I am not a Lincoln and you may not be a Kennedy, but we are also important to the world, so lets keep the flame of hope burning. As Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote, Tis easy enough to be pleasant, When life flows along like a song; But the man worthwhile is the one who will smile when everything goes dead wrong.