A Christian Science perspective: Why hope is more than wishful thinking.

It wasn’t my finest hour. Arriving home from an art museum, I realized I didn’t have my purse including wallet, credit cards, money, and ID. When I called the museum, nothing had been turned into the office – or the lost and found, or the membership desk, or the cafe. I was running out of ideas.

But I wasn’t running out of hope. I honestly was calm and completely confident that my purse and contents were there – somewhere – intact and waiting to be found. I’ll tell you why in a moment. However, the last person I’d been transferred to wasn’t confident. He suggested that I call back the next day in case the cleaning crew found it, or just go ahead and report it stolen. I kept him on the phone as I silently prayed what to do next.

That’s when I knew where the purse was. I told him precisely where to look – the back of a chair in a busy outdoor cafe – and indeed the purse with all its contents was in that exact location, undisturbed.

Why was I confident the purse and contents were intact? It was neither wishful thinking nor fatalism. Nor was it imaging or outlining what I wanted to happen. To me, hope is more than positive thinking. It is different from human will. I have come to see that hope comes from God, not from ourselves. Hope is rooted in a conviction of God’s presence, power, goodness, and government of the universe.

As a student of Christian Science, I am familiar with Bible passages revealing God as an active power of good. One such Bible verse is Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” There’s a lot packed into this verse.

The initial phrase identifying God as the God of hope means God doesn’t just give us hope; God is the source of hope. God being good, as Jesus declared (see Matthew 19:16, 17), also means God does good and is the source of all that is good. Believing even a little that God is good and governs the universe gives me a reason to hope. I’m not relying on myself or others. I am turning to God as the powerful action of good in human affairs.

This same principle of relying on God to guide and govern also applies to more important things we feel we may not be able to regain, such as failing health, lack of resources, and personal loss. You might be praying that a solution will come to another person who will then help you feel better – just as I hoped a museum employee would know about the purse. But God can and will communicate with you and heal you directly.

Turning humbly and completely to God as the source of good increases receptivity to the divine power. Answers to problems come to mind. And we find that God is good and does give peace, joy, health, and harmony. What encouragement is felt when one truly realizes that God provides what is needed.

There is a reason for hope. The reason for hope is that God, good, governs you and all – primarily and ultimately.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.