Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"... Unto a Lively Hope"

Hope.  Like faith, it's another one of those words that seems difficult to define at times.  What exactly is hope?  And what is worth hoping for?

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has several definitions for hope, some of which are "to cherish a desire with anticipation", "to expect with confidence", and "desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment".  The dictionary then gives several examples of "hope" being used in a sentence.

    Everyone in your family is well, I hope.

                      The latest reports hold out hope for a possible end to this crisis.

                                       I hope you're feeling better soon.

While all of those examples are good things to hope for, the hope that I have found in life is a lot more certain.

Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur.

The apostle Peter writes in his epistle that through the mercy of Christ, we can gain a "lively hope" (1 Peter 1:3), and Paul speaks of hope as "an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast" (Hebrews 6:19).

The prophets in the Book of Mormon are not silent on the attribute of hope either.  In 2 Nephi 31:20, Nephi writes "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

 Hope is a truly powerful thing.  For me, hope is the force behind my faith.  Without hope in Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and His gospel, I have no reason to do the things I do.  President James E. Faust, who at the time was serving as First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, stated, "Hope is the anchor of our souls. I know of no one who is not in need of hope—young or old, strong or weak, rich or poor." ("Hope, an Anchor of the Soul") Our hope reaches far beyond the limits of what we are sure of, and helps us to believe in a world where disbelief is often viewed as easier, less restrictive, and increasingly common.  It is in this type of world that hope becomes all the more important, for if we refuse to find hope, then we will most likely never find joy.

On days when the world seems to be against me, I can find joy in the hope that tomorrow will bring a new day.  When I feel lost or sorrowful, I can find joy in knowing that there is always at least One who is reaching out to me in love.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "Those with true hope often see their personal circumstances shaken, like kaleidoscopes, again and again. Yet with the “eye of faith,” they still see divine pattern and purpose (Alma 5:15)." ("Brightness of Hope")

I have come to realize that of all the things in the world that I could hope for, none are more beneficial to me than having hope in and through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Moroni 7:41)  Even when the world turns upside down around me, and I don't have any idea where to turn next, as I center my life and my hope on Our Savior and His teachings, I know that things will turn out alright.  My hope is sure, and I know in whom I have trusted.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


There are so many things in life that can and do draw our attention.  The world of entertainment seems to be moving more and more towards more noise, more color, more excitement.  It is very easy to lose perspective as we go through our week, and I've often found myself beginning to lose sight of the things that are really important. 

I'm sure that I'm not alone in this dilemma, because I've seen a lot of people who aren't sure what path they should take in life, and even for those who are, it can be difficult to remain focused on the end goal.  This last Sunday in church, we had some wonderful talks on priorities that really got me thinking. One of the speakers spoke of making sure that we fill our time with the important things first, before our time is consumed with the little, unnecessary things that fight for our attention.

I was thinking about that, and realized that accomplishing that task is a lot easier said than done.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve gave a talk in October 2007 called "Good, Better, Best", and he talked a lot about how we can prioritize our lives and focus on things that really matter. (Click here to read the full talk)  In this talk, he says, "As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all."

So what things are of the greatest value in life?  I think that a good indicator is whether or not an activity brings us closer to God and to those around us.  Obviously not everything that we do in life has to have God at the very forefront, but I think that we need to remember Him in all that we do, and especially if something draws us away from Him, we may need to reconsider our options.  I've found in my own life that setting time apart to just focus on studying and learning more about my Father in Heaven and His plan for me has helped me to set things in order a lot better.  There are lots of little things that I don't need to worry about so much, but things like consistent scripture study and prayer, I feel those are very vital every single day.

I'm certainly not perfect at having my priorities all in the right order, but I am working at it.  As I've tried to make God a bigger part of my life, and focused more of what I do to bring myself closer to Him, things have always worked out for me.  They're not always easy and carefree, but they have always worked out.

What will you do to prioritize your life?