Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Importance of Hope

In March I was asked to speak at a church conference. I really did not want to accept the speaking assignment since that sort of thing really puts me out of my comfort zone since I hate being the center of attention. I figured if the leaders in charge of making the speaking assignments felt prompted that I should be the one to speak, then I would accept the challenge even though it made me uncomfortable. I spoke on the importance of hope to a group of over 100 men (this was a meeting just for men in leadership positions). Everything went well, but I'm really relieved it's over!

I thought I would post some of the thoughts I shared as well as some excellent quotes from people who have the ability to state things much more eloquently than I'm able to. Over the years I've mentioned a lot of my views on hope and have shared some of the same quotes on my blog since hope is something near and dear to my heart, but I figure it's worth repeating in case it can help anyone who might be struggling to stay hopeful right now.

The Importance of Hope

I’m not an authority when it comes to suffering and adversity, but I do know a little something about challenges and disappointments. People often ask me how I’m able to be so happy despite what’s happened to me. The answer is hope. After an accident that could’ve very well left me angry, bitter and hopeless, I‘ve managed to hold on to hope and live a happy, fulfilling life.

Six things that help keep my hope alive:

1) Keep an eternal perspective: Since my accident one of my personal mantras has been “keep your eye on the prize” (and the prize in this case is eternal life). I know it’s important to focus on what’s truly important because if you don’t your hope will get depleted. There’s a quote I like that says, “If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can endure a hardship today.” I know that this is really true. Even though I’m going to be paralyzed for the rest of my life, I know that in the long run it’s only for a “small moment,” so I’m determined to endure it well. 

Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. ... Everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or faraway, there is the promise of 'good things to come.' ... There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. – Jeffrey R. Holland
2) Challenges make us better, IF we allow them to: After my accident I knew that I had two choices when coping with what had happened to me. I had the choice to either be angry and bitter, or I could choose to let my challenges help me become better. Trials and suffering have their place. They help us grow into the people God wants us to be.

This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. – Thomas S. Monson

3) There’s much to learn through trials: C. S. Lewis said, “God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” I know that this is true in my life. I’m a far better person now than I was prior to my accident, and for that reason I would never take back my accident even if I could. I know that becoming paralyzed was the Lord’s plan for me. I’m of far greater good to the world paralyzed than I ever could’ve been as an able-bodied person. Knowing that the Lord chose these circumstances for my life gives me hope and confidence that I can get through whatever comes my way.

Let us remember that through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for. We are infinitely more than our limitations or afflictions! – Jeffrey R. Holland

4) The example of the Savior brings hope/comfort: I’m in a considerable amount of pain on a daily basis. Most people have no idea how much pain I'm in since I’m always smiling and cheerful. When they find out they often ask me how I’m able to bear it, and so cheerfully. The answer is the example of Jesus Christ. Surely if Jesus could suffer as much as He did, then the least I can do is be cheerful living with my pain/afflictions since they are nothing in comparison to Jesus’.

Because of the Savior's birth, life and Atonement, there are no unsolvable problems.  There are temporary tragedies and difficulties, of course, but they need not be permanent or unconquerable. Can you imagine anyone having a problem God cannot solve? He always has a solution that will advance our eternal progress. – Tad R. Callister
Putting the gospel of Jesus Christ at the center of our lives is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head-on, and to emerge victorious. – Thomas S. Monson
5) It’s okay to cry out to God in despair: If you don’t have a hopeful attitude when it comes to life it’s easy to get discouraged with all the trials, challenges and disappointments that come our way. It’s okay to cry out to God in a momentary fit of despair. Jeffrey R. Holland said:  “When life is hard, remember – we are not the first to ask, ‘Is there no other way?’" On the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Even Jesus felt forsaken and alone, a feeling I’m sure we can all relate to at some time in our lives. We can take great comfort in knowing that even Jesus Christ pleaded with His father that His burden be taken away. But when it wasn’t, He said, “Thy will be done” and submitted to His Father’s will. We need to be willing to do the same.

When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to ask the question “Why me?” At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night’s darkness. We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hopes. … We feel abandoned, heartbroken, and alone. – Thomas S. Monson
6) Things could always be worse: Even if you feel like your situation is dire, there is always someone out there whose situation is worse than yours. There is always something to be thankful for no matter how bad things seem.
Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. ... No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations. –Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Kim said...

Who says you aren't eloquent? This is a beautiful testimony of hope in your life and God working through you. When I was in labor with my second baby, my aunt was with me and she has a beautiful crucifix pendant on a necklace. I just kept staring at it, focusing on it through the pain and imagining Him up on that cross, suffering for me like I was suffering for our baby. Even God himself, in the form of Jesus Christ, suffered terribly and then the heavens opened for all of us.

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