Recently, while leading a retreat on Hope, someone gave great insight into the issue of hope. Rather, the topics of wishes and hope.
It seems today, more than ever, we replace the word wish with hope in our everyday language. I hope you pass that examination successfully; I hope you get that new job, I hope I get a promotion at work, you get the idea. Many of these “hopes” are, in reality, just wishes. So what is the difference between the two? For many, at least in a secular, everyday sense, there is little or no difference. The word hope has sort of lost its theological meaning, which is, it is a virtue and gift from God. Turning inward towards ourselves, many of us use the word which represents something compelling, into just a daily litany of requests for myself or others close by me.
One way I differentiate wishes from hope in this way is to consider wishes like butterflies. These are landing from one spot to another, many occurring during a day, week, or month. Some may be more meaningful than others, but they fall into a category of continuing requests, which seem to have little to do with God and the virtue of hope.
On the other hand, Hope is a gift that we cannot see; it is a permanent presence of an expectation of God’s action in our lives, even when we least expect it. Hope is there for us, perhaps not to see, but rather to feel. It is knowing that God is there for us. Providing us with a confidence which does not reside in our minds but instead emanating from our soul. This gift, which is not of our doing, is directly transmitted to our heart from our soul, thereby giving us this peace-filled confidence He will be there for us. Always. And when it matters most.
Perhaps this week, we can consider the gift of hope. It is a gift freely given to us, and how we can appreciate it without tying it to a bundle of our personal needs. Instead, it is there to give us innate confidence that God will always be there for us; regardless of the circumstances and conditions. All we have to do it have an open heart and an expectation. An expectation best expressed by the mystic Julian of Norwich when she said. “All will be well, all manner of things will be well.”