A FRIEND once told me of a time when everything in his life seemed to be falling apart. Yet he unexpectedly felt hope. He spoke of an apparently unwarranted cheerfulness that kept breaking through. And in the end his hope was justified as his situation turned around. Haven't we all at times felt that a positive turn of events seems impossible? Yet, however dire things appear, there is always solid reason for hope. Our sure foundation for hope lies in an understanding of God's allness. Evil can seem remarkably convincing. Yet if we discern with increasing clarity the fact that God, good, is truly everywhere and is all-powerful, we begin to glimpse the profound spiritual reality that nothing unlike God can have power or reality. Even a brief intuition of this spiritua l truth can kindle hope.
We may see no reason for hope when circumstances seem bleak. Yet we can never really run out of reason for hope. The real man -- our genuine identity -- is God's own spiritual idea. Man is actually inseparable from the good God is pouring out on His creation.
Certainly the followers of Christ Jesus saw no cause for hope at the time of the crucifixion. Their beloved Master had healed the sick, had even raised others from the dead. Now he had been executed. It looked as though he and all the good he had tried to teach mankind had perished. They sadly went back to their previous occupations.
But that most somber of events did not mark the end of the goodness Jesus taught and lived. Instead it showed goodness to truly be unassailable, imperishable. In the resurrection, Jesus proved that his real being was spiritual. Nothing -- no political intrigue, bodily harm, not even death itself -- could put an end to his true identity, which was totally spiritual.
The New Testament book of Hebrews speaks of Jesus' supreme sacrifice for our sakes as ``the hope set before us'' and goes on to say ``which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.'' Jesus' proof that man's identity is spiritual is the great fact on which our hope can securely anchor.
This was something I discovered in my own life. At one time I was often extremely aware of negative trends around me and was only too able to envision the unpleasant consequences that would ordinarily be expected. In each case there seemed to be very little hope of a change. Nonetheless, I would pray. Despite my prayer, however, when the unhappy end I had so clearly foreseen did not materialize -- as happened regularly -- I would be surprised.
I finally recognized that hopelessness is not really caused by circumstances, no matter how much these darken hope and make good seem impossible. Hopelessness is the belief that we are separated from God, who is good and gives only good to His children. I began to see more clearly that we can never be shut out from good, for good is inseparable from God. Thus hope is not just part of a sunny human disposition; it is inherent in our unbreakable union with God. Such hope looks beyond the appearance of mat erial events or circumstances to the reality of God-given good. Then we're not surprised to see this good emerging in our lives.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, assures us in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``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....'' We all can anchor our hope beyond material appearances within the good God is richly providing. As we do this, upwelling hope is always possible, ever availab le.