The success of sanctions often comes from relying on a hopeful view of people’s willingness to change (see “The key hope in sanctions,” CSMonitor.com). But where does this hope come from and how can we support and invigorate hope in people during difficulties?
The apostle Paul prayed for the Roman Christians: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, New International Version). The hope to which Paul referred is sourced in God. God, as Holy Spirit, cares for His creation – including you and me – through His bestowals of spiritual good. And we can rely on God’s goodness, which brings us ready help and protection from harm. Giving the reason for his hope, a Bible psalmist sang, “Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle” (Psalms 140:7, NIV).
When people struggle under punitive sanctions, finding hope in God for relief and progress serves as a starting point for positive change in their lives. As divine Spirit, God, is better understood to be humanity’s strong deliverer from the heat of life’s most difficult challenges, hidden resources within us of courage, forbearance, and enlightened faith strengthen us and enable us to labor on – even under extraordinary pressures – until the restrictions lift. And when hope is based on an understanding of God’s promise of redemption and salvation for all humanity, not just a select portion, individual hope can extend to encourage and inspire others who may be trembling on the brink.
Sometimes hope can feel faint, almost undetectable in comparison to a problem. But real hope springing from even a slight recognition of God as divine Spirit, and the always present source of harmony, is a spiritual force, acting much like a lit match in a dark room, or a single star that breaks through a black night. Even a glint of hope placed in Spirit as the source of good has sufficient spiritual power to make music in the heart – to spark courage, illumine faith, and enlighten the path forward.
The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “What is the anthem of human life? Has love ceased to moan over the new-made grave, and, looking upward, does it patiently pray for the perpetual springtide wherein no arrow wounds the dove? Human hope and faith should join in nature’s grand harmony, and, if on minor key, make music in the heart” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 330).
To embrace life in hope and faith during hardship, even if on minor key at first, can ignite purpose, renew patience, and rouse humility. And as Spirit, God, is Love, the divine bestower of good – and man is the reflection of all good – everyone can discover the inexhaustible fountain of hope that dwells within us all.