Question: When we see, or are experiencing, trouble all around us, shall we have hope or should we give up in despair?
Answer: “Hope casts out fear. This is a world where our safety is never assured. Hope means we really trust the Lord...Hope gives us perspective. Because we know we are living not just for this life, but for another, eternal one as well, we look at life’s events differently...When we have no hope for tomorrow, we do not move as effectively today. It is hope combined with faith that motivates us to plant the seed, that moves us when we’re too weary, that causes us to take the first step and then another.” (“The Light of Hope,” Dwan J. Young, General Primary President, October 1986)
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2 Corinthians 4:8-9
8 We are troubled on every side (every way we turn, we run into trouble, as we try to fulfill our missions), yet not distressed (yet we are not detoured or stopped); we are perplexed, but not in despair (we have not given up hope);
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken (not abandoned by the Lord); cast down (saddened), but not destroyed (not damaged irreparably);
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Neal A. Maxwell, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
...Our everyday usage of the word hope includes how we “hope” to arrive at a certain destination by a certain time. We “hope” the world economy will improve. We “hope” for the visit of a loved one. Such typify our sincere but proximate hopes.
Life’s disappointments often represent the debris of our failed, proximate hopes. Instead, however, I speak of the crucial need for ultimate hope. Ultimate hope is a different matter. It is tied to Jesus and the blessings of the great Atonement, blessings resulting in the universal Resurrection and the precious opportunity provided thereby for us to practice emancipating repentance, making possible what the scriptures call “a perfect brightness of hope” (2 Ne. 31:20).
Moroni confirmed: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ” (Moro. 7:40–41; see also Alma 27:28). Real hope, therefore, is not associated with things mercurial, but rather with things immortal and eternal!
Unsurprisingly, hope is intertwined with other gospel doctrines, especially faith and patience.
Just as doubt, despair, and desensitization go together, so do faith, hope, charity, and patience. The latter qualities must be carefully and constantly nurtured, however, whereas doubt and despair, like dandelions, need little encouragement in order to sprout and spread. Alas, despair comes so naturally to the natural man! Patience, for example, permits us to deal more evenly with the unevenness of life’s experiences.
Faith and hope are constantly interactive and are not always easily or precisely distinguished. Nevertheless, ultimate hope’s expectations are “with surety” true...in the geometry of the restored theology, hope corresponds to faith but sometimes has a greater circumference. Faith, in turn, constitutes “the assurance of things hoped for” and the proof of “things not seen” ...
Such ultimate hope constitutes the “anchor of the soul” and is retained through the gift of the Holy Ghost and faith in Christ...In contrast, viewing life without the prospect of immortality can diminish not only hope but also the sense of personal accountability...
Nevertheless, because proximate hopes are so vulnerable to irony and the unexpected, there is an increasing and profound sense of existential despair in the world. A grumpy cynicism now pervades politics. Many feel burdened by society’s other accumulating anxieties. Even those who are spiritually secure themselves can sense the chill in the air... Much despair truly comes of iniquity...There is so much unsettlement and divisiveness. No wonder the subsequent loss of hope almost inevitably sends selfishness surging as many, resignedly, turn to pleasing themselves.
When hope is stripped away, Paul noted this tendency for some to eat and drink, reasoning that “for tomorrow we die,” driven by the erroneous conclusion that “when a man [is] dead, that [is] the end thereof” (1 Cor. 15:32; Alma 30:18). Much as I lament the gathering storms, there will be some usefulness in them. Events will help to draw fresh attention to God’s higher ways and His kingdom, which is to “become fair as the sun, and clear as the moon” (D&C 105:31). Individuals and nations will continue to choose what they want, but they cannot alter the ultimate consequences of what they want.
Therefore, in this hastened ripening process, let us not be surprised that the tares are looking more like tares all the time. During this time when nations are in distress, with perplexity, there will actually be some redemptive turbulence: “For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance” (2 Ne. 28:19). Being so “stirred up” will be a real thing, though we can only speculate as to how it will be achieved. Meanwhile, those with ultimate hope accept the truth of this terse verse: “But all things must come to pass in their time” (D&C 64:32).
It is well, therefore, to ponder the status of hope in our present human context when God’s commandments seem unimportant to many. Granted, as the scriptures say, “it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right” (Mosiah 29:26). But if this does occur, bringing massive sea changes in society’s attitudes, then the judgments of God will come (see Mosiah 29:26, 27). Only the acceptance of the revelations of God can bring both the direction and correction needed and, in turn, a “brightness of hope” (2 Ne. 31:20).
Real hope keeps us “anxiously engaged” in good causes even when these appear to be losing causes on the mortal scoreboard (see D&C 58:27). Likewise, real hope is much more than wishful musing. It stiffens, not slackens, the spiritual spine. Hope is serene, not giddy, eager without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug. Hope is realistic anticipation which takes the form of a determination—not only to survive adversity but, moreover, to “endure … well” to the end (D&C 121:8)...Indeed, when we are unduly impatient with an omniscient God’s timing, we really are suggesting that we know what is best. Strange, isn’t it—we who wear wristwatches seek to counsel Him who oversees cosmic clocks and calendars...
We may not be able to fix the whole world, but we can strive to fix what may be amiss in our own families...Therefore, brothers and sisters, in our own little family plots, we can bequeath to the succeeding generations “clean earth to till”! Thus not only does charity begin at home, but so does hope! ...Genuine, ultimate hope helps us to be more loving even while the love of many waxes cold (see Matt. 24:12). We are to be more holy, even as the world ripens in iniquity; more courteous and patient in a coarsening and curt world, and to be of strong hearts even when the hearts of others fail them (see Moro. 10:22).
If we look for specific things we can do, the Holy Ghost will direct us, showing unto us “all things” which we should do, for this is one of His inspiring roles (see 2 Ne. 32:5). Our opportunities for helping others who have lost hope may be no further away than in our own extended families, a discouraged neighbor next door, or someone just around the corner. By helping a child learn to read, visiting a lonely patient in a nursing home, or by simply running an errand for a busy but overwhelmed parent, so much can be imparted to others. Likewise, a simple gospel conversation can impart hope. Meanwhile, never mind that the world will become more bipolar as between those who are secular and permissive and those who hold to spiritual values...
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 143; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 195; Excerpts from General Conference, October 1998, “Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” by Neal A. Maxwell, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.