From Parade magazine comes the story of a millionaire, Eugene Lang, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. “Stay in school,” he admonished, “and I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you.” At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling.” Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school and enter college.
A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was.
The boy responded, “Eighteen to nothing– we’re behind.”
“Boy,” said the spectator, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.”
“Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy. “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!” (Source Unknown)
“There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.” Clare Boothe Luce.
Let’s take a look at three enemies of hope.
The first enemy is “What if . . .” There are three giants that dwell in this castle. Let me introduce these malicious characters to you. The Giant Tyranny uses oppressive, intimidating fear and worry to paralyze our will. Instead of possibilities we see a mountain of problems and a landscape of potential landmines. In the same castle is The Giant Trepidation. He reminds me of past failures and puts a magnifying glass on my weakness. There is also The Giant Terror. He fills my mind with thoughts of shame and disgrace and lures me into a prison of inaction. He tips the scale on the side of risk and diminishes all possibility of success.
The second enemy is “If only . . .” This enemy is also the home of three giants the first of which is named Defeat. This giant likes to play the victim card. “If only I had been better informed!” “If only they had not deceived me!” “If only I had come from a more stable home!” “If only I wouldn’t have taken the advice of my friend!” When I adopt the attitude of a victim, I give the victimizer power over my life. The gives the tyrant of Depression power over me. Depression turns out the lights, plunges me into darkness and eliminates any possibility of change. Destruction comes in to finish the job. Creativity is shut down and the possibility of change eliminated.
The third enemy is “I deserve . . .” This enemy allows the giant of disappointment to highlight all the ways in which people have let me down, failed to keep their word, and not recognized my potential. This opens the door to Disillusionment and Distrust. I become cynical, critical and ungrateful.
If I want hope, I must eliminate the enemies of hope. Identify them and evict them. If necessary, find the help that you need to remove them. At the same time make sure you can separate between real hope and imagined hope.
Wishful hope is usually built on a daydream. “I hope some day I will win the lottery.” The dreams that I build on that hope are illusional and a waste of time.
Expectant hope is based on the investment of my time and resource. A person puts money in the stock market and hopes for a return. A farmer tills the land, plants the seed, and hopes for a fruitful harvest. Expectant hope requires an investment that corresponds to the anticipated return. Expectant hope must be held with an open hand realizing that there are variables outside my control that can determine the outcome.
From my perspective I want a hope that is sure and absolute. That hope is anchored to the sure word of an infinite, personal God. That sure word gives me hope in disappointment because He has promised to work all things together for good to those who love Him. It inspires me to anticipate value from the ashes because He has said He gives beauty for ashes. His word gives hope in the pain of the loss of my beloved because He has promised there is a future and a hope.
There is hope. Lay hold of it and I’ll see you at the top.