by Peter Marcantel
“Hope,” wrote Emily Dickinson, “is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” For too many people this holiday season, that “thing” seems to have flown away. And why not? Turn on the nightly news or pick up a paper and you’ll find that that old news adage is still alive and well: “If it bleeds, it leads.”
Every day we’re broadsided with more bad news: the stock market and housing prices continue to fall as layoffs and business failures rise, terrorism has struck again somewhere in the world, a new health concern has been reported in the latest study.
Hope is a precious commodity that seems to be in short supply these days. Webster’s dictionary defines the verb as “to long for with expectation of obtainment; to expect with desire.” Some people are afraid to long for good things. They figure if you never expect anything you’ll never be disappointed, which I guess is true, but I’d hate to live that way. Even if my hope is foolish, give me false hope over genuine despair any day.
Not surprisingly, the Bible has a lot to say about hope. In the book of Hebrews the writer explains that, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” It’s hope that gives birth to the faith that can sustain us. In that context, the American Heritage dictionary offers this definition: “The theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help.”
Whatever my circumstances are today, they will change tomorrow. They could be worse. But hope allows for the possibility that they could be better. And that makes facing even the toughest days easier.
Here’s our prescription for the holidays:
*Turn off the nightly news and watch It’s a Wonderful Life instead.
*Find a positive-thinking friend or family member to spend some quality time with and bask in that most valuable gift of all – unconditional love.
*Allow yourself to imagine all the good things that will come your way in the future (planning how to get them comes later).
*Let hope sing in your heart again.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.