There’s Always Been Hope

“Hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.” ~ Psalm 131:3

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on

How many times do you start a sentence with “I hope . . . “

Think about it. You probably do it numerous times, without consciously considering the meaning behind those first two words.

“I hope I find my car keys.”

“I hope it doesn’t rain today.”

“I hope no one notices I’m wearing two different shoes.”

I hope.

Merriam Webster defines it as: “to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or be true, to expect with confidence.”

To expect with confidence.

That last phrase resonates with me. Through all the many events I’ve survived: child loss, divorces, illness, legal battles, etc. — I’ve always expected with confidence that I would get through the event and things would eventually be better.

This evening I read a short anecdote that I want to share here:

“A large city school system had a program to help children keep up with schoolwork during stays in the city’s hospitals.

A teacher assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a child. She took his name and room number and talked briefly with his regular teacher. “We are studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” she said. “I’d be grateful if you could help him so he does not fall too far behind.”

The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one told her that he had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boys suffering, she stammered, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she had not accomplished much.

But the next day, a nurse asked, her, “What did you do to him?” The teacher felt she had done something wrong and began to apologize. “No, no,” said the nurse. “That’s not what I mean. We’ve been worried about that boy, but ever since yesterday, his attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.”

Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

To be hopeless is a horrible thing. It is to have no assurance or deep belief that things will get better. It is to be so embroiled in the events that have happened that you cannot visualize moving past them and making a life that may be different than what you imagined but not less.

I know of a woman with psychological issues and an already precarious hold on reality, but then she lost her daughter and a week or so later, her father also died. Buried so deeply in her grief, she is lashing out at people, even those she claimed to have loved at one time. I’m sure it is easy to play the blame game — when your life is crashing and other’s lives continue to go on or even improve, when your happiness has disappeared but others are content — the desire to exact revenge for imagined unfairness has to be overwhelming.

I remember standing at my son’s graveside, seeing the faces around me and thinking to myself, “This is not happening.” but it was and it did. People asked if I were going to sue my obstetrician — why? Even the best doctors in the world cannot predict how a pregnancy will turn out. When my mother’s cancer returned with a vengeance, despite getting chemo (which we later learned was knowingly diluted by the pharmacist to a strength that was useless in an effort to charge more per vial – purely monetary gain for him until he got caught) – people asked if we were going to join the class action lawsuit against him — why? No amount of money can bring my mother back.

Shit happens. Hopelessness not only allows you to wallow in the filth of pain and despair but encourages you to stay there. Having hope helps to move out of the shit and get your feet on dry ground where you can shake the shit off, and move on.

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