Have you ever stopped to wonder what keeps you going from one day to another? What lies behind your ability to fight your way through periods of discouragement or depression? What makes you believe that sooner or later bad times will get better?
It’s a little four-letter word that has enormous power in it. Power to bring failures back to success. Power to bring sick back to health. Power to bring the weak back to strength.
It’s the word called hope.
Saint Paul knows how powerful hope is. He put it right up alongside faith and love as the three great words with power in them.
Most of the memorable people I’ve known have been strong hopers. Sometimes they had to learn to hope; they had to walk before could run.
Of such people are Lucinda and Charles Sears who lived on the edge of Lake Okeechobee in Florida. They will never forget – no one who was in southern Florida at the time will ever forget – that day in September when almost without warning one of the greatest hurricanes in history boiled up out of the Caribbean. The monstrous storm slashed into Miami, then surged up the peninsula, leaving death and destruction behind.
Lucinda Sears stood at the door of her little house with a troubled look in her eyes. The sky had a strange, yellowish look. A mounting wind was whipping the fronds of the palm trees and driving gusts of rain that seemed almost horizontal. Lucinda and her husband knew nothing about the full extent of the storm; this was in the days before there were hurricane warnings. All they knew was that suddenly the nine-foot earthen dike around the lake burst and water began to surge around their cabin. Moments later the roof blew off their small home as if it were a piece of cardboard. They knew they were looking into the blank eyes of death.
They grabbed their three children under their arms and ran outside looking for shelter. All they could see was one bent old tree that had withstood many a storm in the past. Whether it could withstand this one they didn’t know, but it was the only hope they had. The rising water from the lake drenched them as they ran to the tree. It made everything so slippery that one of the little boys dropped from his father’s arms and disappeared for a moment. Balancing the other boy with one arm, Charles finally pulled the child from the swirling muck. Floating branches and other debris battered the family as they finally made it to the tree and climbed into the sheltering branches.
The fury of the storm grew worse. As the water level rose, the terrified family climbed higher into the tree, until they were clinging desperately to the topmost branches. Water continued to rise until it came to the parents’ shoulders. They could climb no higher. They had to hold the children up above their heads. It was the only way to keep them from being drowned.
As the wind lashed them and the rain stung their faces, night came on. Still the water inched relentlessly higher.
“Cindy, we’re all going to die!” cried Charles.
“Be quiet,” Lucinda commanded him. “We’re not going to die. The Lord is here with us. You just hold up those children.”
And the storm continued to rage. Once Charles slipped, and he and the two boys nearly swept away. Lucinda made their little daughter, Effie Ann, lock her arms around her mother’s neck. Then, with her legs wrapped around a branch, Lucinda down and pulled the boys up with her. She held all three children until Charles could get hold of the tree and help her again.
But still, the waters reached for them in the blackness with the muddy hands of death.
“It’s no use,” Charles sobbed.
“We can’t hold on. We’ll never make it.”
Into the storm, Lucinda’s strong voice cried. “We’ll make it!” And then, incredibly, she began to sing, with hope in her heart, above the shrieking of the wind:
Father, I stretch my hand to Thee,
No other help I know.
If Thou withdraw Thyself from me,
Ah, whither shall I go …..
Author of faith, I lift to Thee
My weary, longing eyes;
O may I now receive that gift;
My soul, without it, dies.
As the old hymn was borne away by the wind, Lucinda saw three flashes of light streak across the eastern sky. Perhaps it was only lightning, but to Lucinda, it was a sign. “Thank You, God. Dear Jesus, thank You,” she murmured. And the wind slackened and the night became quiet.
Slowly the water receded until at noon the next day they were able to get down from the tree, battered, hurt, hungry, exhausted, but still alive. They made their way painfully to an aid station where they found food and shelter. Thanks to the hope and faith in one woman’s heart, they had lived through the terror of the night.
We have a marvellous faith by which we triumph over danger, over discouragement, over despair, over everything – a faith of no defeat.
So, build hope into your philosophy. Base your life upon it. Hope that difficulties will pass. Hope that storms will cease. Hope that pain will not endure. Hope that my weakness will be overcome. Hope thou in God… and ultimately you will find yourself saying, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.”
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 second part of this article with the title “Power of the Plus Factor: Hope and Faith“.