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There is hope

From the August 10, 2020 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

In a brief news clip about the pandemic’s toll, a mom with her three little boys was standing in front of her home’s “for sale” sign. “Julie knows what insecurity is,” said the newscaster. “She’s lost her husband, her hair salon, and now her house to this pandemic.” Then Julie said seven words I’ll never forget: “I’ll be secure. Because there is hope.” End of clip.

I would’ve loved to have heard more from Julie. What was her basis for believing that? I wondered if she’d read this God-promise in the Bible: “You will be secure, because there is hope” (Job 11:18, New International Version). The peaceful look on her face said to me that her hope was deep, anchored in certainty, not a pie-in-the-sky wish.

Hope is frequently thought of as merely a human wish list, sometimes selfish—an “I hope this pandemic ends soon so malls can open” kind of thing. Or a positive-thinking, “hope of the human spirit” thing. But if that’s all it is, then it’s liable to human variables. Iffyness or randomness. It could even fizzle out. 

Genuine hope is so much more. It’s sound, strong, substantial. One dictionary defines hope as “the highest degree of well founded expectation of good” (Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828). When that “highest degree of well founded expectation of good” is anchored in Spirit, God—the intelligence of the universe manifesting power—it’s vibrant, vital, victorious.

Many there are who, in the midst of unthinkable trials and tortures, have discovered just such hope as present and irrepressible—so much so that they’ve written volumes on it and attributed their victories to it. “My first glimpse of God,” as I once heard someone call it. Interestingly, many accounts on hope note essentially the same thing: Hope never comes from “out there” or when things are going well. It wells up from within when things “out there” seem most grim. It’s a state of consciousness that transcends the human scene.

The highest hope is a deep-toned understanding of God’s ever-present love and our inseparability from it.

Early in my study of Christian Science, I learned that God is the source of such hope. In the depths of despair, when I cried out to God, four words, “Don’t give up hope,” came clearly. There was an authority behind them—God’s omnipotence—and it began immediately to lift my thought to discover that our faith in God is really His faithfulness to His children, all of us, reflected right back to Him. His faithfulness so permeated my consciousness that my extreme emotional, physical, and financial hardship was soon history.  

My main memory of it is the hope I felt that God wouldn’t let me give up—that God won’t let any of us give up. When cherished, this straight-from-God hope expands and partners with the patience and persistence we need to overcome hardships, not merely survive them. Then we’re stronger, better than before. Then we feel the way the Psalmist described himself feeling in Psalm 42 when he went from being so cast down, and in tears, to a glimmer of hope. Held to, his hope rose from praising God for “the help of his countenance” to praising Him for being “the health of my countenance, and my God” (verses 5, 11). This suggests to me that his hope blossomed to where he saw himself as God’s individual expression, with all the goodness that includes. And his despair was gone.

The ultimate state of hope as an unshakable expectancy of good is hope that has grown into faith, which has come to fruition as a solid spiritual understanding of the allness, everywhereness, onlyness, and goodness of God. And the best example of this hope/faith/spiritual understanding combination is Christ Jesus, whose “not my will, but thine, be done” prayer (Luke 22:42) in the hours before his crucifixion must have had behind it an unfailing trust in the goodness of God’s will. So God-filled was Jesus’ consciousness that he overcame torture, death, and the grave.

Jesus’ mission was to point the way for us. It was the eternal Christ Science that he demonstrated over and over, healing sickness, sadness, and sin and proving that the highest hope is a deep-toned understanding of God’s ever-present, almighty love and our inseparability from it.

The Christ—the activity of the presence of God’s power—is just as powerful with us here and now as it was with Jesus more than two thousand years ago. And we, too, can prove it. How? Right where daily statistics of insecurity, instability, and uncertainty scream hopelessness, right there is God in all His mightiness and goodness, giving assurances and evidences of His presence, power, and love. His Christ, or God-communication, is speaking to each of us and activating within us the hope, strength, comfort, and persistence we need to “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Julie isn’t the only hopeful one today. Every issue of this magazine includes accounts of men’s, women’s, and children’s proofs of God’s unstoppable healing love in times of trouble—safety in the midst of danger, security in the midst of chaos, health in the midst of contagion, supply in the midst of lack. These words from Hymn 476 in the Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430–603 capture the promise that is there for all of us. We can take them to heart:

Longing heart, don’t give up hope 
   When threats of evil overwhelm. 
Love now keeps Her promise true, 
   God’s sure hand is at the helm. 
Bringing joy when all seems darkness— 
   God will keep you safe, secure. 
You go forward, loved and peaceful: 
   Victory is always sure.
(Friedrich Preller, © CSBD)

Judith Hardy Olson
Guest Editorial Writer

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