How Big Is Your Hope?

Recently I received an electronic card. It was beautiful. When you click on it, four candles burning warmly appear and the background music is so soothing that you can hear the candles speaking to each other.

One of them, introducing herself as Peace, is so miserable because “these days, nobody wants to keep me lit”. So its flame slowly diminishes and goes out completely. The second candle, declaring to be Faith, is also gloomy. “These days, I am no longer indispensable.” She too extinguishes herself out.

The third candle is love. No luck even here “I do not have any more the strength to stay lit any longer. People put me aside and don’t understand my importance. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them.” And waiting no longer, Love goes out completely.

Suddenly, on the side of the screen, a small child enters and starts quizzingly looking around. When he notices that three candles are no longer burning, he starts crying. He wants all candles lit!

It is then that the fourth candle speaks and encouragingly tells the boy, “Do not be afraid, for I am Hope, and while I still burn, we can re-light the other candles.” And this is what the boy does. He takes gently the candle of hope and lights one by one the other three candles. The room now is radiant again!

The Italians have a proverb saying that hope is the last to die. And this is true, because the moment one loses hope, everything is over. He may well die! The coach of my soccer school team even used to say that he who does not hope to win has already lost the game!

A man was perched on a bridge ready to jump into the river. The rescue team was called. One of the team managed to get the suicide man attention and started speaking with him. “If I give you ten minutes to tell me what is wrong with this world, then you must give me ten minutes to tell you what is right with this world, and why I think you should not jump.” They agreed to that.

The man began and he could have gone on for an hour about what is wrong with the world. The policeman stopped him and he said, “Your time is up.” So the rescue man started telling him what was right with this world and why he should not jump. After two or three minutes, he ran out of things to say. He just reached over, took our man by the hand and the two of them jumped together into the river!

This may be a tall story. But it is true. The moment the dark side of live eclipses the bright side, it is over.

The situations may be numerous… A marriage that does not seem to work. A teenage son who keeps rebelling against authority. A habit – alcoholism, ice, lust – that does not want to break. A relationship that breaks up.

The truth is there are no hopeless situations. There are only people who have grown hopeless about them. When Abraham was 75 years of age, and Sarah was 65, God promised that they would have a child, and that a great nation would grow out from their offspring. Years passed and nothing happened. When Abraham was 99 years of age, the Lord appeared to him and informed him that in about a year time, his wife would have a son. Abraham was confused. Sarah laughed. But the fact is they had a child! And not only a child, but “Abraham became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken” (Romans 4:18).

The obvious message is that when the answer does not seem to come, when things do not seem to add up, when life is unusually tough– hang in there. The old Pope John 23 once gave this precious advice, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

The book of Lamentations is the account of Jeremiah’s weeping over the city of Jerusalem after it had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Jeremiah sat on a hillside overlooking the city and wept for a long time. Yet he does not lose hope. Just in the middle of his expressions of grief, he looks up and utters “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for one to bear the yoke – there may yet be hope. For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love…”

As Charles Allen once said, “When you say that a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.” When God comes down, He removes the immovable difficulties. When God comes down, the impossible becomes reality. God moves on behalf of the one who waits.

Give time to God this New Year 2006!

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.