«The hope of the righteous will be gladness» (Proverbs 10:28)
One of my (J) most intense childhood aspirations was having a bike. I did not fulfill it until I was thirteen years old; that long wait implied some frustration from time to time. But at the same time it brought me much enthusiasm, illusion and hope. The bike of my dreams could only become a reality if I behaved well and if the family resources allowed it. Thus, on several occasions, the vision of the bike gave me the willpower to study and get great marks and be obedient when my inclinations pushed me in the wrong direction or when I felt tempted to lie or cheat. I admit it was not the greatest and ideal stimulus, but in my childish mind, it was a tremendous motivation. The bike kept my hope alive and gave me energy to do the right things. Oddly enough, once I got the bike, it seemed that I needed another incentive to focus my behavior on: bike sportswear, bike accessories . . . or any other element that would bring hope. This experience taught me the first lessons about the value of hope.
In fact, hope is a powerful incentive to keep living and doing good deeds. Depression is characterized by the lack of hope, up to the unfortunate point that many depressive people end up hopeless. God does not want to see His children in such situation. God wants His creatures to live with the greatest joy and the best hope. Thus, the Bible has left us a rich inheritance of messages of hope like today’s verse or the one of the Psalmist’s, «Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God» (Ps. 43:5).
When the Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) described hell (Inferno) in his Divine Comedy, he imagined this big inscription on the front gates:
«ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE.» Even if we know that Dante’s infernal description is not based on the Scripture, the meaning of such hopelessness offers a very powerful image: the worst possible situation (Dante’s hell), besides the eternal torment, is the lack of hope.
The Bible tells us about the best hope, the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), which points to the coming of our Lord Jesus to end this time of pain, death and injustice, and a start to the joy of eternity.