SOMETIMES personal problems, or even events reported on the evening news, may make us wonder if there really is any hope in the world. For some, the outcome of the national election in the United States may seem very hopeful; for others, it may seem just the opposite.
There is so much change in our world that it may appear as though there isn't anything permanent we can base our hopes on. But such a foundation does exist, and we can find it in the life and teachings of Christ Jesus as recorded in the Bible.
Jesus' resurrection from death, a crowning point of his ministry, instilled in his followers a hope that could not be shaken, no matter what kind of perils they faced. As a result, Paul, who experienced beatings, imprisonment, and was stoned nearly to the point of death, could write in his letter to the Romans that they should be ``rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer." And a little later he adds, ``Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
At first this determination to be hopeful might seem strange, or at least naive. Yet there is a deeper message underneath Christ Jesus' ministry and Paul's writings. This message is the fact that man is actually spiritual and inseparable from God. This means that we are not subject to what the Bible calls material ``lusts"--to anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, and all the other elements arguing that we are material beings, cut off from good, from God.
Our unbreakable relationship with God, Love, as Love's own image, gives us hope even when things seem hopeless. It doesn't mean that we naively ignore the challenges we or our world may be facing. Nor does it mean that we overlook wrongdoing. Rather it includes both the promise and the demand that we ``overcome evil with good." We begin to do this through prayer, whether for ourselves, for our local area, or for the world. One way to start is to recognize that however hopeless our circumstances might app ear right now, there is an answer; and prayer will bring it to light. When we turn to God in this way, even if we aren't entirely confident of our own ability, we are going beyond the limited range of the human mind and opening ourselves up to the inspiration that comes from an infinitely loving God.
As we accept the presence of God in our lives, we see more clearly that our true, spiritual nature is good. Our progress in proving this may at times be slow, because as we pray our whole sense of ourselves is actually changing. We are giving up the hopeless, mortal view of ourselves and turning toward a higher understanding of who and what we are. Even if our progress is slow, however, we can trust that it is certain.
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in several places about the value of hope. In one place she says, ``As a cloud hides the sun it cannot extinguish, so false belief silences for a while the voice of immutable harmony, but false belief cannot destroy Science armed with faith, hope, and fruition."
As we turn to the Science of Jesus' teachings--to the truth of the inseparability of God and man, and of our spiritual nature--we will be less likely to be ``overcome of evil, as Paul put it. Whether this evil is something in our own lives or in the world, our knowledge that God, good, is with us--and all His children--makes it natural to turn to Him in prayer and to trust that God's law of harmony will bring solutions to light.
And through the progress that results from such prayer, we find more and more that hope isn't just an option but is a vital and natural part of our lives.