Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When the Only Thing Left Is Hope

Like you, I've been through some hard things.  I'm not silly enough to think I have a corner on the market.  We all go through tough times.  We all have bleak moments.  Whatever the source of our trials, feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness, betrayal, loss and other sources of pain are part of this mortal experience.

At one such time in my life I recognized 1) I was powerless over the situation and 2) I was in desperate need of some hope. But when you feel hopeless where do you find hope? 

A friend of Wendell's made a comment about General Conference and how he was sorting through the talks looking for specific messages.  He had a whole sorting and highlighting system that he was sharing that struck Wendell.  He told me about it and, reluctantly, I began reading conference talks.  Wendell was reading the current edition, so I started with what I could get my hands on--an older copy--and just started looking for titles that might apply to me.

Titles like, "Attempting the Impossible", "That Your Burdens May Be Light", "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance", "Hold On", and "Safety for the Soul", drew me in.  I learned that right there before me were messages from God for me.  These were gifts from Apostles and Prophets on the earth today, and in modern vernacular, no less.  In a talk by Elder Scott I read, "Had I not responded to the first impressions and recorded them, I would not have received the last, most precious guidance."  And I realized that I needed to record my messages.

So I backtracked and wrote down, in a pretty little journal, all of the quotes from those general conference talks that were meant for me.  And when the days were the bleakest, I opened the Ensign and read, underlined and rewrote messages in my journal.  Later I could sit and reread those lessons in quote form.

"Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times.  . . .That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair."  --Elder Holland

"In the scriptures there are very few stories of individuals who lived in blissful happiness and experienced no opposition.  We learn and grow by overcoming challenges with faith, persistence and personal righteousness." --Ann Dibb

"Because personal revelation is a constantly renewable source of strength, it is possible to feel bathed in help even during turbulent times." --Julie Beck

As I read His words, hope elbowed it's way into my heart. Not only was I crying less and smiling more, but perhaps even more importantly, I was building an reserve of hope and coming to understand that hope is not just a state of being of which we, emotional mortals, are victims, but rather a commandment and a responsibility.

"Be of good cheer" is just as much a commandment as "thou shalt not steal."  And despair is a temptation that I should resist. 

Of all the ways I had looked at hope--this was certainly a new one.  But a reassuring one, too.  Hope was no longer a passing phase, but an action that I could take.  Prayerfully, I could ask Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son for the spiritual gift of hope.  And what a gift it is!

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