‘If everything is lost, nothing is lost; if hope is lost, everything is lost.’ Anonymous

Is it not interesting that there is something called hope? It is man’s unique nature as opposed to the instinctive animals, that he is able to cross the present with his mind and plant himself in an imaginary future. Hope is the ability to grasp that future and then use it to suitably alter the present.

And so when a man and a tiger come face to face, the man thinks of how tigers could make this world more rich and beautiful, and how he can take efforts to save tigers so that the population of tigers can increase; and so he hopes to save them from extinction. The tiger on the other hand looks at man and sees either food or a threat.

And in the midst of adversity, it is often only hope that man clings on to. In Paul’s words,

‘—-we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ (Romans 5:3-5)

The progression from suffering to hope is real. Adversity of any kind- be in sickness, opposition, troubles or persecution is unwelcome and as man grinds his way through it, he invariably develops perseverance and patience. Perseverance is the real test of man’s belief systems. You can believe in yourself, your support systems or your theology when the going is good, but when adversity strikes, it is harder to believe. Doubts arise and perseverance is the ability to stick to your beliefs despite adversity.

When perseverance comes through, your character matures. From being childlike, who does what he is told to do, man transitions into an adult type of behavior, where personal decision-making becomes the basis for his character. The other aspect of character building that suffering and perseverance brings is the detachment from the worldly pleasures and a fixation on the eternal reality. You cannot be attached to the world and still desire for God. One will always be at the expense of the other.

Hope naturally follows, not the hope that things in this world will become all rosy and sweet, but the real hope that you are secured onto eternity. Being with God now and forever, knowing that death is only a step toward eternal life and understanding that this imperfect world will one day be replaced by God’s perfect eternal abode are different aspects of hope that anchor a Christian’s life. And how do we know for sure? In Paul’s words, through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and constantly assures us and gives us a taste of the glory to come.

Even if all is lost, hope stabilizes man, but what can he do if there is no hope?

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