Once Hope is gone, the joy of life soon follows.
The Victory in Virtue Series
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Today I present another entry in the Victory in Virtue series. Today’s post is on the Virtue of Hope, another essential and foundational Virtue to have. In these dark times, it’s a source of comfort and strength we need. It’s much like Faith, in that way.
As Christians, we have the ultimate Hope in the promise of Jesus Christ and eternal salvation through Him. We have the greatest source of Hope! Why should we ever feel hopeless? Well, it’s because life can get us down. But in today’s post I’m going to explain why the Virtue of Hope in the LORD is greater than any discouragement. It’s Virtuous to be Hopeful.
It’s another long post today, so let’s get straight into it!
What Is the Virtue of Hope?
Hope is closely related with the Virtue of Faith. Though they’re not the same, the two Virtues do share many similarities. Like Faith, Hope is an essential Virtue that gives us great strength and lays a foundation for the other Virtues. Like Faith, when we don’t have Hope we become weak.
Life is full of ups and downs, like I said in the Faith post. But the Virtue of Hope gives us the comfort and consolation we need to keep going. Like Faith, the Virtue of Hope is a valuable resource in hard times. Without the Hope of Christ’s promises, without the Hope for an eternal reward in Heaven after our death here on earth, this life would be unbearable. This life would be too much hardship without the Hope for something better, the Hope of Christ’s promises. Our Hope in Christ gives us a reason to trudge onward, knowing that we will have better days. And knowing that, when we die here on earth, we have an eternal rest waiting for us. Without this Hope, what is there to look forward to?
When we have Hope, we’re grateful for each day of life and look forward to better things to come. When we’ve lost all Hope, we just want life to be over already. To rephrase an idea from Gregory Boyle: “People with Hope plan their futures, people who’ve lost Hope plan their funerals.*” Once Hope is gone, the joy of life soon follows. Then you could be in real danger, or you could end up having a joyless life. But that isn’t what God wants for you! Don’t plan your funeral—plan your life with God.
*Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, (AFFILIATE LINK) by Gregory Boyle – Free Press – 2011. Page 89.
Life is a journey with big ups and downs. Exhilarating triumphs and crushing defeats. Innocent happiness and comforting love, and painful loneliness and heartbreak. But during these low points, it becomes more important than ever to hold on to the Virtue of Hope, and Hope that there will be relief from our suffering. We must never give in to despair; doing so only makes our suffering more painful and offers no practical benefit of any kind in the situation. There is never a time to give in to despair.
That’s why despair is a temptation of the devil, and despair is of the devil. Discouragement is a temptation of the devil as well. Despair and discouragement go against the Virtue of Hope. The devil wants us to despair, he wants us to be discouraged. He wants us to think that what we’re doing isn’t working, he wants us to think our dreams will never be achieved. He wants us to give up. He wants us to give up on the Virtue of Hope. He wants us to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, and to wallow in despair. When we fall into despair and stay there, it leads us away from God. Then we start sinning more, and making bad decisions. That’s why despair and discouragement are temptations of the devil.
Despair and discouragement keep us focused on our sadness and what’s wrong, rather than what’s right—the Hope we have in Christ. This sadness leads us away from God. To have Hope even in the worst of times is a Virtue.
We don’t need to be satisfied with our current situation to have Hope. If we’re going through a heartbreaking tragedy, we can be discontent with it and fully feel the pain, while also having Hope. Things always do get better, if we have Faith and allow ourselves to recognize it when it happens. The knowledge itself that things get better can give us Hope. Regardless, hang on to Hope to the bitter end—without it we have nothing. Holding onto Hope is Virtuous.
It’s a Virtue to hold onto Hope during dark times, such as these End Times we’re living in now. It’s a Virtue to dare to have Hope when everything looks hopeless. It’s easy to have Hope when things are looking good. The hard part is having Hope when the world looks doomed. It’s a Virtue to have Hope in the worst of times. It’s a Virtue to dare to have Hope when it looks like you have no reason to.
It’s a Virtue to have Hope during good times too. It’s a Virtue to allow ourselves to get our Hopes up sometimes, rather than trying not to so we protect ourselves from disappointment. God doesn’t want us to block off our own joy by doing that. He wants to bless us with that joy. We do need to be smart about it, and not get our hopes up too quickly for something. Because that is not properly guarding our heart. But if we’re calm and focused, connecting with God every day in prayer and following His commandments, it’s a Virtue to get our hopes up when we see a blessing coming our way.
It’s Virtuous to get excited for the future, about good opportunities, and when it looks like God is about to bless us. Even if a situation or opportunity did not go the way we wanted or expected, it’s a Virtue to remain Hopeful for the next opportunity, and to be Hopeful that often not getting what we want can be a blessing itself. A ‘No’ right now can mean a better ‘Yes’ in the future, when we’re ready. God does want to bless us, but we must grow and be prepared to handle those blessings before He does so.
Now, with the Hope we have in Christ’s promises, we have all the reasons we need to obey God’s commandments and live as best we can. Our Hope should motivate us to keep going, to stay focused on our chosen Christian path. Our Hope should motivate us to cultivate Virtue, and to keep doing better. That’s why, like Faith, Hope is a foundational Virtue. It creates a foundation on which we can build the other Virtues.
And, like Faith, Hope is a subject I could write about forever. The Virtue of Hope is a topic that has filled up countless books (again, like Faith). But this is only one blog post, and I have to stop somewhere. So let’s move on to some prayers for obtaining the Virtue of Hope.
Prayers for the Virtue of Hope
There are many prayers we could pray to receive the Virtue of Hope. The best ones of course will be the ones that we create ourselves—the ones that come straight from the heart. Remember: When we pray we aren’t trying to say the right combination of words to unlock something in Heaven. No, that would be magic, which is an abomination to the LORD. Prayer is much simpler. Simply tell the LORD what you want, what you need, what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, and so on.
Praying for a Virtue is a great way to build it up. It’s one of the best ways, actually. So here are a few short, simple prayers for the Virtue of Hope you can try adding to your prayer routine.
Hope in the Promise
Like last week with the Virtue of Faith, here’s another Catholic prayer that I have “De-Catholicized” so that it’s safe to pray. Meaning, I took out all content about the saint this prayer was addressed to. Because saints (or Mary) are not moderators between God and mankind. There is only one moderator between God and man, and that’s the human being, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). There is nothing in the Bible that says we should pray to anything besides Jesus Christ, the LORD.
But speaking of Jesus, He promised us eternal life and we have indescribable Hope in that promise. While the world despairs, we still have Hope. We always have Hope, in Jesus. So this prayer is all about our Hope in His promise.
O Almighty and Infinitely Good God, Who has promised eternal salvation to those who obey Your Commandments and profit by Your grace, we beseech You, grant that we also who are striving for eternal happiness may overcome all obstacles in the pathway of virtue and may attain eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
The Hope of the Path
Here’s a short prayer I came up with off the top of my head. I wrote it for today’s blog post, and it’s inspired by John 14:1-7. First let’s read that passage:
(1) “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. (2) My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? (3) When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. (4) You know the way to the place I’m going.”John 14:1-7 (CEB)
(5) Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
(6) Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (7) If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.”
So here Jesus is telling humanity not to worry. There’s room for us in Our Father’s house, and Jesus has shown us the way. We know the way to go! We’re no longer lost, once we’re following Jesus. And Jesus wouldn’t have promised us these things or shown us the way if there wasn’t enough room for everyone. So we have Hope in this.
Now here’s a quick attempt at a prayer based on this passage. Try this:
LORD, thank You for showing us the way to The Father’s house and Your guidance. Thank You for the Hope we now have for eternal rest thanks to You. Please grant me the Virtue of Hope so I will not be troubled and can stay strong in my trust in God. Amen.
Prayer for Hope
Here’s a prayer from Christianity.com, which you can find on this page. The link goes to a page with several prayers for Hope.
This one, simply entitled “Prayer for Hope” is clearly meant to be prayed when going through dark times. Remember—that’s when it’s hardest to have Hope. It’s easy to be hopeful when things are good. When everything’s bleak is when we really need to have Hope. And that’s when our Hope is the most Virtuous.
So this prayer, which again you can find here on Christianity.com, is a prayer for Hope in dark times:
Heavenly Father, I am your humble servant, I come before you today in need of hope. There are times when I feel helpless, There are times when I feel weak. I pray for hope. I need hope for a better future. I need hope for a better life. I need hope for love and kindness. Some say that the sky is at it’s darkest just before the light. I pray that this is true, for all seems dark. I need your light, Lord, in every way. I pray to be filled with your light from head to toe. To bask in your glory. To know that all is right in the world, as you have planned, and as you want it to be. Help me to walk in your light, and live my life in faith and glory. In your name, I pray, Amen.
Hope in the Ultimate Ally
This final prayer is short and sweet. It’s based off the Hope offered in Romans 8:31. Let’s read that now:
(31) So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?Romans 8:31 (CEB)
“If God is for us, who is against us?” That’s it right there, that’s everything.
If we love God then we know that He is always working for our good (Romans 8:28). He’s on our side, like it says in Romans 8:31. God is the ultimate power in this entire universe. If He’s on our side, like Romans 8:31 says, then what can stop us? What is there to fear? Nothing, nothing.
So here’s a quick prayer based on the Hope we receive from Romans 8:31.
LORD, thank You that You are on my side, protecting and helping me. Thank You for the Hope I have because with You on my side, nothing can stop me. Please help me in my struggles, and help me to never lose sight of the Hope I have in You. Amen.
Do not fear; your God will come (Isaiah 35)
For another prayer about soldiering on through dark times, let’s look at Isaiah 35. Isaiah 35:4 has one of my favorite lines in the Bible: “do not fear; your God will come.” Here it is:
(3) Strengthen the feeble hands,Isaiah 35:3-4 (NIV)
steady the knees that give way;
(4) say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
That’s a great message of Hope right there. Whatever you may be going through now, do not fear. God will come, and He will come to save you. With that in mind, we can keep going through hard times, knowing that one day God will save us, and every day that goes by gets us one day closer to that. That’s what Hope does for us: It keeps us going. Without it we’re lost.
So Isaiah 35:4 is the inspiration for this prayer I whipped up real quick:
LORD, thank You that You are coming to save me. Please grant me the fortitude to make it to the end, and the courage not to fear. Grant me the Virtue of Hope so I will keep my trust in You to the end.
Again, there are so many options for praying for any Virtue. I could go on and on and on. Everyone is always welcome to leave a comment with prayers of their own.
But once we’re done praying, it’s time to take action (in the physical world). Let’s move on to that now.
Living the Virtue
To cultivate a Virtue, we must also practice it, and do that consistently. Don’t just do it a few times and stop there—stay consistent. That consistency is how you build up a habit. It’s also how you cultivate and strengthen a virtue.
So how can we do that with Hope? Let’s look at a few practical ideas. And remember: These are only a start! The possibilities are endless. I welcome any comments with good ideas about this.
Here are just a few ideas of how we can live out the Virtue of Hope in our own lives:
- Make plans for the future and get excited for them
- Think of a dream you want to achieve, pray on it, plan for it, and start taking steps towards it
- Make a bucket list or some other list of goals, take baby steps to checking them off one by one
- And other ideas you can think of!
Like I said above, it’s a Virtue to have Hope when things are bleak. It’s also Virtuous to get our Hopes up for something, to get excited. So if we make plans for our future, and get excited for them, we are beginning to cultivate that Virtue of Hope. We have something to look forward to. We are opening ourselves up for the joy of a future blessing. But what comes next is most important ….
The second item on the list is linked to the first. Let’s think of some dreams, great things we want to do. It’s Virtuous to get our Hopes up for it. But next we need to take the practical steps to make it happen. Pray on it, tell the LORD what you want. Then start taking action. Get your materials together, raise some funds. Start building or writing or recording or whatever it is you’re doing. Just start. Get started and take action. It’s Virtuous to have the Hope it takes to start a big project, trusting in the LORD that He will work it out for your good (Romans 8:28).
Finally, make a bucket list of some things you’d like to do, places you’d like to go, things you’d like to see, and so on. What’s Virtuous about this? Well, again it gives you something nice to look forward to. It exercises the Virtue of Hope when we have something to look forward to. When things seem bad, think of the list and have Hope for better days ahead. Have Hope for the joy you’ll feel when you get some of those things done. It’s the thinking ahead part that’s important here.
Remember, these practical ideas I offer are suggestions for building a Virtue. These things are ways we can get started. So when it comes to the Virtue of Hope, looking beyond our current situation to the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ is what we need to do. That’s the Virtue we need to build, the skill we need to learn.
Don’t get discouraged by what you see happening around us, by what’s going on in our life. Discouragement is a temptation of the devil. Learn to look beyond the current situation, and look to Christ. That’s where we want to look, and daring to hope for better days ahead is the right way to go. Christ is our Hope—never lose sight of that. It’s a Virtue to have Hope. Even more so when everything is bleak.
Hope Is Life
When we have the Virtue of Hope, we have a great source of strength and comfort. Hope is much like Faith in that way. They are only a little different. Both Virtues are based on trust in God, so that’s something we need to cultivate. The more we trust in God, the more Hope and Faith we’ll have.
Hope is about looking beyond our present situation, no matter how bleak, and taking comfort in the promise of salvation through Christ Jesus. Hope is about believing in better days ahead, and an eternal rest. It’s about allowing ourselves to get excited for that.
Discouragement and despair are the opposite of hope. Both of these are temptations of the devil. The devil wants us to lose hope, he wants us to give up. He wants us to focus only on the dark times we’re going through, and not on the promise of Jesus. Don’t play along!
To have Hope is Virtuous. To get excited for future joys is Virtuous. To look beyond the troubles of the present to God’s promise for the future is Virtuous. To trust in God that better days are ahead is Virtuous.
Cultivate the Virtue of Hope. Pray for Hope every day, and choose to be Hopeful. Hang on to the Virtue of Hope to the bitter end. Hang onto Hope like life depends on it—because it does. Without Hope, we have nothing. Without Hope, life loses its joy. Without Hope, we stop planning our lives and start planning our funerals. That’s not what God wants!
As Christians, we have the ultimate Hope in Christ Jesus and His promise of eternal salvation. Never lose sight of that. We have no need to fear or be discouraged. Hope in the LORD, and everything will be alright. AMEN!
The Virtue for next time is Charity. Stay tuned for that and Subscribe to my FREE weekly newsletter with the link below so you’ll never miss a post!!
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Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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