Making Hope Visible

Health — Is All in Your Head
February 23, 2023
Anxiety — Excess Future
March 9, 2023

The life-changing impact of hope

What does hope look like? However we may choose to describe it, based on our diverse perspectives and different life experiences, the impact of hope is life-changing.

It has been said, that man can live about 40 days without food, 3 days without water, 8 minutes without air – but only 1 second without hope, because to live without hope, is to cease to live.

It is hope that enables one to keep going in the face of difficult circumstances; it is having an expectancy of a better tomorrow, regardless of the current outlook. Martin Luther King Jr. states: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

When you are hopeful, it can bring healing even in the most difficult circumstances.

Flowers in hell

During the dark chapter of a global COVID-19 pandemic, our family sadly lost two relatives who succumbed to the virus. Our faith in God and Scriptures of comfort brought us solace and strength during our time of grief, as we looked forward to the hope of heaven, void of sickness and death.

The subsequent pandemic lockdowns, gave much time for reflection, and I found myself with more time for reading. It was during this time that I read a book that impacted me significantly. It was captioned -  ‘The CHOICE – Even in Hell Hope can Flower.’ It is one of the most compelling books on hope, I have ever read.

Author Edith Eger whose experience in the concentration camps, has shaped the trajectory of her life, chronicles her story of the struggle for survival, in this captivating publication.

Born to Hungarian Jewish parents, Dr. Edith Eva Eger (aged 95 at the time of writing), is a Holocaust survivor and a specialist in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Edith was sixteen years old when she was deported to Auschwitz in 1944. Tragically, her parents (along with thousands of Jews) were murdered shortly after their arrival. When the liberation occurred, Edith was clinging to life. Her positive life attitude, bravery and ability to focus not on the pain and suffering, but on her future after the camp, enabled her survival.  

Subsequently, working as a psychological therapist to help clients free themselves from the thoughts that bind them to their traumas, choosing hope over despair, she has brought hope to countless lives.

I found the title of her book intriguing. But it was the picture on the book cover that captivated me and gave clarity to the subtitle – ‘Even in hell hope can flower’. It features the concentration camp in the distance, on a grey wintry day with heavy snow on the ground. In the foreground, are some yellow flowers growing out of the snow, nestled between a train track.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the flowers vibrant colour, a stark contrast amidst the sombre background. I was immediately struck with the message of hope that this picture conveyed. The flowers are precariously installed on a train track, thriving in the most unlikely place. It is as though it is defying death. In a concentration camp, where so much death has occurred, life blooms!

Bloom with hope in a dark world

This is what hope looks like!

We too can bloom with hope in this dark world. Even when life strips us of all that is familiar, for the Christian, hope in the living God is life affirming.

When we have nothing left but God, we realise that He is enough, because His has everything we need to sustain us.

With Christ we can face life and all its challenges with purpose. He enables us to conquer the past with all its disappointments, live in the present with joy in spite of hardships, and embrace the future with hope regardless of the current outlook.

Apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthian church, had good advice about keeping a realistic outlook on life, as we place our hope in Christ, not necessarily for happiness in this world, but in a heavenly hope, where we will enjoy for a world void of suffering.
“And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

1 Corinthians 15:19, NLT

How did he come to such a conclusion? He had encountered a catalogue of adverse life experiences and emerged to not only share what he survived, but paint a picture of living hopefully, whatever, our current circumstance.

The record of his intense suffering is highlighted in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. We read of multiple shipwrecks, vicious beatings, being robbed, almost stoned to death, episodes of fierce persecution, frequent lack of food, water and sleep, and so much more. Incidentally, some of these intense ordeals, were not one off tragic events, but repeated suffering, in the same area of trauma: 5 episodes of 39 lashings, 3 episodes of being beaten with rods, 3 shipwrecks and the list goes on.

That’s enough trauma to cause anyone to lose hope.

How was it possible for Paul to heal from all that suffering? He realized that it was futile to put his hope in happiness in this world alone. He also realized that God’s love, keeps us hopeful in spite of life’s anguish.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love."

Romans 5:3-5, NLT

Managing our expectations is to keep our lives in perspective.

What are you hoping for?

So, what are you hoping for? How can hope permeate your current circumstances to enable you to see a better future?

Hope is transformative when Jesus is at the center of our hope.

If you accept His offer to bring hope into your life He will turn:

  • Your battles to breakthrough
  • Your test to a testimony
  • Your mess to a message
  • Your obstacles to opportunities
  • Your problems to possibilities
  • Your hurt to healing
  • Your wounds to wellness
  • Your pain to praise
  • Your trials to triumphs
  • And transform you from a Victim to a Victor

This makes hope visible.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Romans 15:13

Sharon Platt-McDonald is a leading Health Practitioner and Coach, Author, and Community Leader.