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.