Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Importance of Hope © Megan Snider 2012

Disclaimer: It is not my intention to turn this blog into a religious blog. When I do see correlations between religion and what I am going through as far as my illnesses are concerned, I do write about them. I am in no way trying to convert anyone o to say that I am a better human being because I am a believer. I struggle with my faith because of my illnesses. I simply wanted to share with my readers where some of my hope comes from in this blog despite the fact that those of us whom are ill suffer so gravely. That is my only intention.

As you may or may not know, hope is something that does not come easily for me. I am prone to think the worst about situations and catastrophize. This is much easier to do than to be upbeat and positive. In fact, everyone is familiar with that old joke that exclaims sarcastically, “It takes more muscles to smile than to frown.” I am not necessarily sure if this is true and even if it is, that doesn’t give it the right to be the guiding maxim of your life.

I will say that fear and happiness do not go hand in hand. Neither does pain and happiness. Some people are graciously able to accept, or rather, feign acceptance of their situations. Others buck and kick against it, hoping to destroy it with their sheer wills. Unfortunately, will itself is not enough to break through any illness. Otherwise, I would have broken through my illness years ago. I have been so mad and frustrated by it as a child and an adult, that I have gone to great lengths to battle it—only to end up losing.

So, why and how can you learn to hope? I don’t mind admitting that hope is something I have to learn. I don’t think hope comes naturally to many human beings. The Bible urges people to hope. In the New King James Version of the Bible, Hebrew 11:1 states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” There is a strong correlation between faith and hope. If you have faith, you should have hope, right?

Here’s the tricky part. It all boils down to what you hope for. Some of us hope for worldly changes and physical and mental changes in ourselves or others. Some hopefully look forward to the day when ascension to heaven will be reached and the world will be renewed.

I believe God wants us to have hope for our lives, even though they are “but vapor” as is states in Ecclesiastes. We were created from the most delicate substance of all: dust. Dust is easily separated and can be totally blown away by gusts. Sometimes gale storms and torrential downpours scatter our cognizance far and wide and cause them to congeal and form into cakes of filthy mud. It makes sense that we would be uncertain of many things because our own genetic makeup is absolutely unsure and hinged on chance. In his epic poem “The Wasteland”, T.S. Eliot wrote the following line: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” I have always taken this to relate back to humanity’s fear of its own mortality and fear of its own great imposing frailty. That has been among some of the top literary quotes ever made in my own opinion.   

Hope is a funny thing. You don’t necessarily have to hope for anything. It can just be an abiding feeling. You don’t need to say to yourself, “Okay, I will set a goal and then hope for it.” If you have been keeping up with my blogs and writings, you will notice that hoping for something specific may lead to folly because you may or may not just get it someday. And, furthermore, who can really say that they hope for one thing continuously. As I have aged, I have found that some of my hopes are mainstays while some have simply fallen by the wayside. So, to pick one thing and to hope it will make you happy is not really the point of hope.

The point of hope is to give us strength to continue through life. When everything else in completely gone, we still have hope. Hope is still readily available at no cost to the broken hearted or the broken souled.  One of the verses that I used to mock when I was against God and when His hand was against me was Jeremiah 29:11. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” At this time I believed I did not have a future. If you ask me now, I might reply in the same tone. I’m not really expecting much anymore. That does not mean I have given up hope. It means I have not given in to irrational hopes as I had done before as I was younger. See, Jereiah 29:11 does not state that God will give you everything you desire. I’ve pointed this out many times. If you believe in God, yes; He has a plan for you. However, His plan and your plan may be two different things.

As a human, I feel that I have little control over the things that go on in my own life. Even when I am at my deepest and darkest moments, even though I imagine ending things outright, I know that I can’t do that. I don’t think that suicide is a coward’s way out. I know it gravely and deeply wounds families but I know that the people whom commit suicide know that they will be hurting the ones they love. I do not believe they kill themselves to hurt people deliberately in a wide majority of cases. I just think there is a point where pain can no longer be endured nor managed and they only see one obvious exit sign marked in big red letters.

As a Christian, I have an abiding hope. I do not know why and I suppose I must attribute it to God. My life is terrifying. I wake up terrified. I have episodes of panic and DP and DR every day. I am also Agoraphobic. None of these are classified as serious illnesses but they still chip away at the prospects of my life. So, if you think I’m a person with blessed life standing on a soapbox and preaching at you, then you are wrong. I live with conditions that cannot be cured and erode away at the very core of my life like battery acid.

This hope keeps me from pulling the trigger or crafting the noose. I just can’t do it. I suppose in my heart I know that even if these illness never go away that there will be things in life I will enjoy. Sure, maybe I’ll never be married. Maybe none of my heart’s desires will come to pass in God’s will. You must remember my reaction to Matthew 19 a few days ago. The reason I won’t simply allow myself to die is because I don’t know what’s around the corner. And, also, small things make me happy. For example, instead of dying, I could just have a chocolate malt and watch television or write something. That sounds horribly silly, but that is the kind of low key activities that I look forward to. Everyone has something to look forward to.

Listen carefully, hope does not mean to sit there and hope that your life will turn out that certain way that YOU want it to. Hope is just the simple abiding feeling of continuing on the journey of life for no particular reason. Even if your life has been darkened by the great arm of illness and sorrow which spreads its long shadow over everything you have known or ever will know, you can still hope. One of my favorite verses from the Bible is the Lord’s response to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Here in this gospel, Paul has prayed three times for a thorn in his flesh to be removed. We do not know the nature of the “thorn in his side.” We simply know it was there and he prayed repetitively for it to be gone. I certainly know that feeling. Finally, regarding his thorn, Paul finally wrote about the Lord’s answer to him. Paul wrote, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Take great notice of that verse. Paul was never healed. This does not mean God is unjust or unable. You must remember that miracles are called “miracles” for a reason. They are called “miracles” because they do not happen every day. If they happened everyday they would be called “commonplace”, wouldn’t they? 

It is a comfort to me to know that I am at least useful to the Lord if to no one else in my crippled state and my blackened disposition. The phrase “My strength is made perfect in weakness” means that in weakness we easily succumb to things—this includes God’s will for us. We have withered and I believe it is God’s delight to surprise up and cause us to spring back up even at the zero hour. Paul also says that he would “rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” People who do not live with degenerating illnesses can find hope and faith a bit easier than those of us that struggle with mental and physical illnesses. I am not saying that “normal” people don’t have problems. Everyone has problems.

However, there is something to be said about enduring constant and repetitive suffering. It bends you and bows you and you crave hope all the more. Just as a starving man will scramble for a piece of bread crust thrown into the dirt so do we too scramble for a dislodged piece of hope originating from the heavens.

Even while being crucified on the cross, one of the thieves being crucified alongside Jesus found peace in His presence. Now, get that through your head. These men were dying slow agonizing deaths and being gawked at by the curious masses. One of the theieves recognizes Jesus and his power and asks for forgiveness. While the three of these men were on the cross, nailed to planks of wood by their hands and feet, with strong metal nails bolted through the fragile line of their tendons, they still had presence of mind. And, in an odd way, two of them still had hope. The two that still had hope were Jesus and the thief who asked for redemption. After asking to be saved, Jesus replied to the thief in Luke23:43 by saying, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Notice that Jesus was not concerned with the darkness he was in. He was wrapped in the blackest darkness of all—being face to face with death. Yet all that was reflected in the eyes of that thief and Jesus was a pure picture of paradise.

I know that many of us asked why we are not cured. But we must remember that Paul was not cured by the Lord and he was very close to the Lord. We also must not remember the failings of Peter and how those failing broke his heart for he loved Jesus dearly. And, most of all, we must remember that although He had the ability to do so with one movement of his pinky finger, Jesus Christ did not save Himself from his own suffering. We all have crosses to bear. I have written that before and it is true. The only person able to help you shoulder that cross is Jesus Himself because he was the original bearer of the cross. No other human being can transport himself or herself into your mind or body and help you shoulder the pain.

Here is where hope comes in. You should always have hope. Remember that Jesus said that all was required of us was to have hope the size of a mustard seed and that would move mountains. If I recall correctly, a mustard seed is very miniscule. Now, you may not move the mountain or obstacle of your choice out of your way, but you may remove other obstacles with faith and hope in the Lord. So, before you throw in the towel, give just a tiny bit of hope a chance.

© Megan Snider 2012

(c) Megan Allyce Snider 2012
Copr. M. Allyce Snider 2012
Copyright Megan Snider MMXII


  1. Great Post buddy………It will surely help me.

  2. Thsnka a lot, mental disorders. Some of this blog I had trouble formatting, so it looks really bad but I can't help it. I tried to fix the text and background several imes wih no luck. I'm glad you like it. I'm always worried when I submit religious based blogs because religion and politics are two things that upset people very much.