Can hope help us get through distress?

8 February 2023

L'espérance peut-elle nous aider à traverser l'épreuve ?
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When we are hurting, gloomy or in distress, do hopefulness or optimism help much? Shouldn’t we rather rely on hope?  What is Christian hope about? Can it help us through distress?  Analysis by Sister Cecilia for the French catholic Radio Esperance.

(Part 1) The virtue of hope
(Part 2) Upholding hope

What is Christian hope about?

One can always hope for or expect something to take place, yet one is never sure it will. Thus for example with whether forecasting, passing an exam or even for more righteous benefits such as a good health, peace in the family or a new job.

On the contrary, Christian hope is of another sphere. It is a theological virtue, it means that it is bestowed by God at baptism.

The three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity are our spiritual genetic heritage.  

The virtue of hope is given freely, but the baptized is responsible for its growth, like a lingering ember waiting for a puff to alight. Hope is a virtue that one acquires through recurring small acts of hope. It does not depend on personality.   

What is the object of the virtue of hope?

“O Lord God,I hope by your grace for the pardon
of all my sins and after life here to gain eternal happiness…” This act of hope that we have somewhat forgotten, reminds us that the object of this virtue is a person: God Himself.  

“Our hope has a name: the name of Jesus. It is established on faith in Jesus who rose from the dead and restored us to life and turned our mourning into joy” (Pope Francis).

We clearly hope to be in communion with God. Hope leads us towards our sole contentment, which is God. However, it does not mean that we rebuff earthly reality, but rather that everything does not come to an end with death.

The role of hope in distress

“The present, even when painful, can be undergone and assumed when it leads to a goal and when we can depend on this goal.” (Pope Benedict XVI).

The virtue of hope is not a matter of self-persuasion, because it is God-given gift which He grants by grace. The virtue of hope does not depend on us, but on God who is faithful. What is our part is trust, hope’s intimate friend. It is therefore a question of sustaining it and uncovering it, even in the midst of distress and adversity.

Hope is founded on Christ’s promises. Where does one find them? Above all, never in the deceptive promises of seers and mediums, nor in the world’s fake consolations. We find them by listening to His Word, and receiving it in our innermost.

Let us be cautious when seeking consolation and strength, for peace, the true fruit of hope, is not from this world. Indeed, it resides in someone: Christ. God does not fail us, it is us who, too often, ignore Him.

How to find hope after bereavement? Read about Mary-Jo’s personal experience:

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