Hope - A 'Life Vest' for Many

by Audrey Watkins - Faith & Purpose

In his book, "The Joyful Christian," C.S. Lewis describes hope as one of the theological virtues.

"This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not ... a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do," Lewis stated in the book. "It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next."

One of the examples Lewis uses is that of The Apostles themselves, who began the conversion of the Roman Empire and were responsible for the spread of Christianity. They and others like them left their mark on Earth, he wrote, "precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven."

This month, HopeCircle, a division of NEA Clinic's Charitable Foundation, has planned a weeklong series of events to highlight the spirit of hope and its importance in the life of our community.

Brenda Wiseman and June Morse, director and volunteer coordinator, respectively, for HopeCircle, are responsible for bringing to Jonesboro this concept for a weeklong celebration of hope. The idea came to them after reading a book written by the founder of The Hope Foundation of Alberta, Canada, and subsequently researching the organization's Web site. The Hope Foundation's data reinforced what HopeCircle staff and volunteers have experienced: that hope is essential to life and that it is something to be celebrated and encouraged.

Wiseman knows that sooner or later life introduces us vividly to our need for hope. She shared these thoughts on the role that hope has in the lives of patients she and other HopeCircle staff members and volunteers encounter on a daily basis.

"With the people we meet going through the cancer experience, hope seems to

propel them forward in life. Hope that is attached to an outcome might

change from day to day, but 'intrinsic' hope seems to shape their way of

being in life. The absence of hope may be our greatest teacher about hope's

meaning. This is especially evident during the cancer experience. Whether

it's cancer or another human condition of woundedness, hope is the hand held

out in the dark. At times, hope carries us when we can't see it or believe

in it."

Wiseman said most of the patients they visit with tell them that they find their hope through faith or prayer. In a recent discussion about hope during a support group meeting, Wiseman said a two-time cancer survivor described hope as the life vest that carries him in uncertain and turbulent waters.

As Christians, our course on Earth is no more certain than that of non-believers. The difference is that we have hope that is built upon our belief in Christ and His promise of eternal life. We all need a life vest that we can cling to at some point. "Celebration of Hope" week will be a perfect opportunity for churches to reach out to others in the community who are searching for a way to stay afloat.