Kibo gaku – the study of hope – is getting much attention in Japan. The long recession since the end of the "bubble economy," as well as the country's high suicide rate, have triggered this study.
So far, the results say that the degree of hope people feel may be proportional to their income or level of education. But the study also found that people in cities who have sufficient income and education have very little hope. One conclusion that the researchers have made is that reaching a goal that is perceived as ideal, without having a sense of actually progressing, diminishes people's hope. In other words, when we cannot see any change or improvement in our thinking and our lives, we feel stuck and hopeless.
The Bible says hope is a step leading to faith, which allows us to perceive changes before they are evidenced in front of our eyes. The author of the book of Hebrews in the Bible wrote, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (11:1).
This "substance of things hoped for" is an integral part of our spirituality. Mary Baker Eddy described it in this passage from her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Spiritual sense, contradicting the material senses, involves intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition, reality" (p. 298).
These are more than just words that sound positive; we cannot live without them. Through spiritual intuition we can know what we truly need to do. And each desire to do the right thing comes because our true origin is in God, who is infinite good.
For example, if you have a desire to contribute to peace in the world, and this desire is supported by intuition and hope, you can expect the way will open up to more understanding, more patience, cooperation, and innovation. Whatever results from this desire and hope is actually proof of our spiritual origin – that we all come from infinite Love, another name for God. And in infinite Love there are no doubts or limitations.
St. Paul proclaimed, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:2). Knowing God as our only cause helps us see the divine will that is always healthy, good, generous, blessing, meaningful, new. This gives plenty of reason to be hopeful. "Renewing" our mind should be natural, if we look to the divine Mind (also a synonym for God) for fresh ideas and the strength to realize them. We don't have to find hope and create ideas in humanly manipulated opinions and theories.
Today, this moment, we are made to feel hopeful. This is a part of our makeup. Hope is within all people, young and old, rich and poor, with or without formal education. It is universally available to uplift our thoughts. With it we can heal and be healed, and love our neighbors as brothers and sisters, more and more.
For a Japanese translation of this article, see The Herald of Christian Science.