“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
The statement above, from the pen of Laini Taylor (author of Daughter to Smoke and Bone), came to my mind while reading The Gift of Hope, written by Susan Strohm. In her article, she tells of being at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, United States, awaiting the results of a battery of neurological tests. Doctors were searching for the mysterious cause of her period blurred vision and profound fatigue.
With Strohm in the waiting room was another patient also waiting for the results of her tests. As strangers sometimes do when they face a similar crisis, Strohm and the older woman shared fears and problems. The older woman talked about grandchildren, and Strohm spoke lovingly of her two grade-school children and worried husband.
After several hours, the older woman was called into a private office. She emerged relieved and smiling, telling Strohm her only problem was a light elevation in blood pressure. “I hope your tests results are as promising as mine,” she told Strohm and added: “If they aren’t, please try to find comfort in this little message.”
The older woman extended her hand and pressed a small laminated plastic copy of Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer into Strohm’s palm. It reads: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Almost immediately, Strohm was called to the neurology department, where the physician told her she had multiple sclerosis (MS). The doctor told her there were three distinct types of MS, but she had the “best” kind. It would not likely cripple her nor result in her death, the doctor said.
“I don’t enjoy having the ‘best’ kind of MS, but I find immeasurable contentment in the message a caring stranger gave me,” she wrote. “When hopeless depression threatens, I read those simple, fulfilling words and am reminded a higher power offers hope and refuge to all.”
In Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert penned: “Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope”
Former American president Barack Obama himself said so, too. “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope,” the Nobel Peace laureate pointed out.
A friend of mine, who is a well known writer Adrian Simpson, once said that we can live for 30 days without food, eight days without water, and about eight minutes without air, but never for a second without hope. “Hope is essential to life, to physical soundness and sanity, and to a balanced outlook on life,” explains Lemuel Ll. Niere, former editor of Health and Home magazine.
In what way? Niere illustrates: “Hope sustains a marooned sailor through long days when no ship sails in sight. Hope spurs a cancer victim to keep on battling against overwhelming odds. Hope of parole bolsters the prisoner in his lonely cell as he anxiously waits for a presidential commutation.”
Roy T. Bennet, the man behind The Light in the Heart, was said when he wrote: “Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever.” Never lose hope. That seems to be the message of the poem below (we don’t know who wrote it): “If you can look at the sunset and smile, then you still have hope. If you can find beauty in the colors of a small flower, then you still have hope. If you can find pleasure in the movement of a butterfly, then you still have hope. “If the smile of a child can still warm your heart, then you still have hope. If you can see the good in other people, then you still have hope. If the rain breaking on a roof top can still lull you to sleep, then you still have hope. If the sight of a rainbow still makes you stop and stare in wonder, then you still have hope.
“If the soft fur of a favored pet still feels pleasant under your fingertips, then you still have hope. If you meet new people with a trace of excitement and optimism, then you still have hope. If you give people the benefit of a doubt, then you still have hope. If you still offer your hand in friendship to others that have touched your life, then you still have hope. “If receiving an unexpected card or letter still brings a pleasant surprise, then you still have hope. If the suffering of others still fills yours with pain and frustration, then you still have hope. If you refuse to let a friendship die, or accept that it must end, then you still have hope. If you look forward to a time or place of quiet and reflection, then you still have hope. “If you still buy the ornaments, put up the Christmas tree or cook the supper, then you still have hope. If you can look to the past and smile, then you still have hope. If, when faced with the bad, when told everything is futile, you can still look up and end the conversation with the phrase: ‘Yea, but…’ then you still have hope. “Hope is such a marvelous thing. It bends, it twists, it sometimes hides, but rarely does it break. It sustains us when nothing else can. It gives us reason to continue and courage to move ahead, when we tell ourselves we’d rather give in. Hope puts a smile on our face when the heart cannot manage. Hope puts our feet on the path when our eyes cannot see it. “Hope moves us to act when our souls are confused of the direction. Hope is a wonderful thing, something to be cherished and nurtured, and something that will refresh us in return. And it can be found in each of us, and it can bring light into the darkest of places. Never lose hope!” In Forbidden, author Tabitha Suzuma asked: “At what point do you give up – decide enough is enough?” The answer: “There is only one answer really. Never.”
The same is true with hope!