…Were it not for my faith that I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Hope in the Lord. Be strong and of good courage, and hope in the Lord. – Psalm 27: 13-14
Hope can be defined as a belief that Goodness will ultimately triumph no matter what setbacks evil has created. It is a faith that love and compassion are more powerful than fear and hatred.
Hope is predicated on the power of the Kingdom of Heaven. Omnipotence and goodness are the essential qualities of this kingdom. When we turn towards God in aspiration, we link up with the forces of light that live on the higher planes. This inner connection permits their strength and will to enter into our world. Once this door is opened, everything is possible.
The feeling of hope arises out of the experience of the Divine Presence. In the light of Her presence, we touch the essential nature of Divinity. Through this revelation, we come to realize that compassion and love are the true basis of God’s interaction with our world. This awareness inspires us to have confidence in the ultimate redemption of humankind. One whose being is Love will fulfill that love in the world. This is our great trust and security.
Hope is not just the opposite of despair; it is the antidote. When we hold on to God, then despair cannot enter our hearts. If we touch on the place deep inside us where God dwells, then we will not fear the way ahead.
Attaining the virtue of hope requires spiritual discipline. We need to keep one part of our mind with God and above the struggles of this world at all times. We strive to maintain a link with our soul no matter what the circumstances. This link acts as a ray of light that illuminates our inner reality, even if there is darkness in our outer world.
Once we have learned how to hold on to our ray of light, hope becomes transformed into a potent spiritual force. It becomes an innate certainty that God will never abandon us; a profound trust that whatever the obstacles, we will get through to the other side. This powerful optimism enables us to find the way forward even when everything seems blocked.
In the spiritual life, there are times when we are plunged into the depths of despair. In these moments of despondency, everything looks black, everything looks impossible. We feel that all our life is a failure, that we have no redeemable qualities, and that there is no reason for us to go on living at all.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that at such times we need to search out one aspect of ourselves that is worthy – one part of our life that is right. Discovering this spark of goodness, he declares, is the key to awakening a feeling of hope in our hearts. No matter how difficult our situation may appear, no matter how bleak life may seem, there is always one positive point that we can find.
If after searching diligently, we still cannot find anything that we would call good in ourselves, Rebbe Nachman urges us to remember the Divine spark inside each of us. If God is within us, he exclaims, then all is not lost. As we all are part of God, there must be a meaning and purpose to our existence. In a state of profound mental anguish, this thought can provide great strength and consolation.
Once we have found this ray of hope, we can use it to climb out of the darkness. From this point of virtue, we can build a lifeline to the light. We use this spark of positive thought to shift our consciousness and bring the radiance of the soul down into our hearts.
In moments of darkness in the world, we need to hold onto this perspective not only about ourselves but also with regard to the rest of humanity. We turn our mind away from all the hatred and cruelty and seek out the sparks of goodness that are manifest in everyday life: the selfless love of parents for their children, the acts of lovingkindness for perfect strangers, the quiet strength and perseverance of millions of people in the face of great suffering and dire circumstances.
Judaism teaches us that each of us has a yetzer tov and a yetzer ra – a good and an evil inclination. Each of us is capable of great good as well as great evil. If another person rises up to attack us, it is a manifestation of evil, and we would be extremely foolish not to defend ourselves against him. But, at the same time, we must never forget that he also has a yetzer tov. He too has a Divine spark at the core of his being. Just as a person can rage with hatred, he can also emanate a powerful beam of love. Both these potentialities exist inside us. And we forget either side of this truth at the risk of our lives and our soul.
All human beings have limitations. Every one of us has his or her weaknesses and faults. But we all also have many positive qualities that can be harnessed for noble endeavors in the world. God has only imperfect instruments. The Omniscient surely knows this even better than us. But if we commit our life to God, then the Almighty will always stand by us. If we do not leave the Holy One, He will never leave us. This is the covenant and the promise of the true spiritual life.
Were it not for my faith that I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Hope in the Lord. Be strong and of good courage, and hope in the Lord. – Psalm 27: 13-14
Ultimately, hope for the future of humankind arises out of the intimate bond that exists between God and His creation. This bond is manifested in the goodness that is present in every human being. Our destiny is to reveal the divine nature of this material reality. This spiritual mission is what gives meaning and purpose to our lives. We hold on to the faith that a day will come when the Lord’s benevolence will be revealed in the land of the living. This aspiration is the source of our courage and strength.
Copyright © 2014 by Yoel Glick