JUST hearing the word hope brings feelings of confidence and promise. Hope is that gleam of light that penetrates despair and isolation; the spark of life that signals healing. When hope rests on even a fledgling recognition of the presence and power of God as good, as loving, as the one governing Spirit of all existence, hope helps to usher in true comfort, stability, strength, and lasting harmony. Some years ago I struggled with long bouts of depression. I was living alone then, holding a job I was sure promised no future, and feeling shut out of the career for which I had been trained. The past seemed lost, the present barren, and the future pointless. Although I can't say that I felt tempted to commit suicide, I had little desire to live.
At the same time I had begun to study Christian Science seriously, reading often and earnestly the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. Simple assurances of God's pure goodness and abiding love -- like the gentle reminder from Psalms, ``The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want''1 -- gave me hope. But it was glimpses of the Science underlying such assurances, and revealed so gloriously in the healing acts of Christ Jesus, that kept me going.
What I was learning was that God is not just a benevolent, powerful force in human affairs. God is Love itself. God wields all the power there really is. God is the ever-operative Principle of existence -- the one creator of life, the true cause of man's being. And God, I saw, was not just my source, my Father-Mother, my Life, He is everyone's -- always.
Moreover, God is Spirit, which means that in reality each one of us is wholly spiritual. It also means that everything opposite to the purity, health, integrity, goodness, of Spirit -- evil in any form -- is refutable, deniable, provably powerless, for God is All in every sense. These were the reasons I could count on God. These were the reasons for my hope. And these truths were what sustained me despite my continuing to feel nearly overwhelmed at times by a sense of futility and gloom.
One morning after a particularly bleak night, I woke with the words and melody of a Christian Science hymn going through my mind, though I'd made no special effort to recall them. They were like a gift -- a reward for persistence in vesting my hope in God and in praying and listening and studying to know Him better. I felt God's nearness and love in a new and richer way. I went to work that day in greater peace than I'd known in months. As I continued my study of the Bible in the light of Christian Science and leaned on God, the bouts of depression lessened until they stopped entirely.
The reason my hope didn't remain just hope, but blossomed into something more secure -- and eventually into greater equanimity, freedom, and happiness -- was that it was anchored in God, not in material circumstances or in people.Mrs. Eddy makes this very point in a passage in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The word Shekinah that appears in the following quotation was used in Bible times to denote God's presence.Mrs. Eddy writes: ``The nature of Christianity is peaceful and blessed, but in order to enter into the kingdom, the anchor of hope must be cast beyond the veil of matter into the Shekinah into which Jesus has passed before us; and this advance beyond matter must come through the joys and triumphs of the righteous as well as through their sorrows and afflictions.''2
Hope, then, is not an end in itself, buta vital waymark on the journey out ofmateriality into spirituality. By keeping hope alive through faith in God and a growing understanding of Him, hope returns to us in expanded degrees until hope itself progresses to trust, and trust develops into spiritual understanding, and spiritual understanding brings healing, higher joys, and clearer views of spiritual reality. Each time we challenge and reject the various and often vivid claims of evil in our lives -- the fear, pain, illness, sorrow, dissension, and so forth -- we are tasting heaven, eternal harmony, and awakening further to the truth that man, as God's spiritual likeness, has never known anything else.
Mrs. Eddy once wrote to members of the Church she founded: ``O glorious hope! there remaineth a rest for the righteous, a rest in Christ, a peace in Love. The thought of it stills complaint; the heaving surf of life's troubled sea foams itself away, and underneath is a deep-settled calm.''3 There is not a reader of this article who can't know that triumphant hope -- and that promised calm -- through gaining higher, more spiritual perceptions of God.
1Psalms 23:1. 2Science and Health,pp. 40-41. 3Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19. - NO DAILY BIBLE VERSE TODAY -