Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. – Psalms 42:11
If you look back through history you will see many shining instances where a single man or woman brought hope and courage and endurance to a whole nation: Winston Churchill, George Washington, Nelson Mandela, Obafemi Awolowo, Lincoln Abraham Joan of Arc. God was surging through the lives of such people, energizing them, sustaining them, filling them with unconquerable hope.
A good biblical example of this can be dated back to two thousand years ago on the Hill of Mars when Paul stood telling the Greeks, who worshipped a whole pantheon of pagan gods about the ultimate God “in whom we move and live and have our being.” The Greeks were not great admirers of hope. They believed everyone’s destiny was fixed and unchangeable, and therefore that hope was just a delusion. Still, Paul preaches hope and makes people of his generation and beyond to know and accept that this omnipotent Creator cared so much about human beings that He had sent His Son to die on the cross and thus redeem us. More extraordinary still, those who accepted the Son and believed what He said would never die, but would have everlasting life.
What a stupendous message of hope this was! The bible tells us that some of Paul’s hearers laughed and mocked him. There’s something about hope that makes clear thinking possible. When you’re faced with a problem, do you regard it with hope or with despondency? If you hope there is a solution, if you believe that somewhere there’s solution, you are probably going to find it. If you think dismay about it, you’re likely to come up with dismal results.
I know a remarkable woman who demonstrates the tremendous power of hopeful thinking. I remember being taught a lesson in hopefulness very early in life. When we were children, my brother Bob and I used to go every summer to visit our grandparents, who lived in Lynchburg, Ohio. Beside the house, quite close to it, was a great tree. One night, just after our grandmother had put us to bed, a tremendous storm came up. The wind whistled around the house with a sound like a thousand banshees. Lightning flashed and thunder roared. Rain was hurled in sheets against the windows. The whole house shook. Bob and I were scared. From where I lay, I could see the tree, silhouetted against the lightning flashes. Seeing how violently it was being tossed by the storm, I was suddenly filled with terror. “Bob,” I cried, “the tree is falling!” We jumped out of bed and scurried down to where my grandmother was sitting by a kerosene lamp, quietly reading the Christian Advocate.
We cried, “Grandma!”
“What’s the matter?” she asked calmly.
“The tree! It’s going to fall down on us!”
My grandmother was a wise woman. She bundled us up and took us on the porch in the wind and the rain. She said, “Isn’t it great to feel the rain on your face? Isn’t it marvellous to be out here in the wind? God is in this wind. You don’t have to worry about the tree. The tree is having a good time with the storm. See how it yields to it, bending one way or the other. It doesn’t fight it. It cooperates with it. It’s playing with the storm. It’s laughing with the wind and the rain. It’s not going to fall tonight. It’s going to be there for a long time to come. Now, you go back to bed, boys. God is in the storm, and ultimately all storms pass.”
All through my life the memory of that simple incident has reassured and sustained me. We should not write off anything as impossible or as a failure. God gave us the capacity to think our way through any problem. The hopeful thinker projects hope and faith into the darkest situation and light it up. As long as the thought of defeat is kept out of a person’s mind, victory is certain to come sooner or later.
This article above was inspired by a book called Power of the Plus Factor by Norman Peale and you may like to also read the first part of this article with the title “The Reality of Hope and Faith“.