[T]rue hope focuses us on the great realities-”things as they really are”-and frees us from unneeded anxiety, but not from the necessity of patient endurance. When we are down and discouraged, the hope of Christ can lift us up lest we remain vulnerable overlong. The brisk pace of Church service also helps us focus talent and time outwardly rather than being left alone for long with our moods. Duties knocking at one’s door are like friends come to call not always convenient but usually gladdening in their effect. Our hope rests upon a dependable expectation. Let others, if they choose, define theological hope as a mere wish or an awaiting. Hope includes, in fact, these more passive ingredients. But it is so much more than wishful musing. It stiffens, not slackens, the spine. It is anticipation that turns into day-by-day determination. It is an eager and an enthusiastic expectation based upon a dependable and justifiable object of hope, the triumph of the resurrection-generating Lord Jesus Christ. It is this hope, and this hope alone, that permits us to “endure well” to the end-knowing that the end is but a glorious beginning! It is this same hope that is such a vital and helping virtue when we must “continue the journey” notwithstanding our weaknesses.
We are, therefore, grounded in the grand hope that the gospel provides. Our tactical hopes, however, are sometimes another matter. We may, for instance, hope to become a doctor or for a certain dating opportunity-outcomes that may not occur in spite of our best efforts. Our hopes of the latter kind, like our prayers, may or may not be granted. If they are not right for us, they may be withheld. If such hopes are subject to the agency of others, and so many are, they may not be realized. But our hopes for the things that really matter will not be blasted by men or circumstance.
If, however, we have this precise and basic hope, insofar as such strategic things as immortality and individuality are concerned, then the spirit of hopefulness will pervade our lives, giving to us a quality of life that is characterized by hopefulness. Real hope also gives us a tactical toughness that befits those who have ultimate hope. Job knew that “my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” (Job 19:25.) Job’s hopes did not focus on next year’s crops!
If we have this kind of ultimate hope, there is no room for proximate despair. If the big things that really matter are finally going to work out in eternity, then the little things that go wrong mortally are not cause for desperation but perhaps only for a little frustration and irritation.
Ultimate hope and daily grumpiness are clearly not reconcilable.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Notwithstanding My Weakness
Deseret Book Company, 1981
“Sometimes, Lord, one is tempted to say that if you wanted us to behave like the lilies of the field you might have given us an organization more like theirs. But that, I suppose, is just your grand experiment. Or no: not an experiment, for you have no need to find things out. Rather, your great enterprise. To make an organism which is also a spirit, to make that terrible oxymoron, a ‘spiritual animal.’ To take a poor primate, a beast with nerve-endings all over it, a creature with a stomach that wants to be filled, a breeding animal that wants its mate, and say, ‘Now get on with it. Become a god.’”
A Grief Observed, 57
From C.S. Lewis for Christmas:
The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God. (Mere Christianity, page 178)
What are we to make of Jesus Christ? . . . The real question is not what we are to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? (God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, page 156)