I recently read a story by the Most Reverend Father Faber, which has helped me more than I ever imagined that it might.
When our first parents were driven out of paradise, they wandered about full of sadness, and weeping.
Before them stretched the earth which was to be the scene of their toil, overgrown with thorns and thistles; in their ears the terrible sentence pronounced by their Judge sounded constantly:
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.”
Then they sighed, exclaiming with tears:
“Alas! Why did not the angel with the flaming sword put an end to our existence!”
Suddenly there breathed forth from paradise a gentle breeze; the shrubs bent their heads, and a tiny cloud, colored with hues of the dawn, floated down from the hills. From this cloud a voice was heard to speak in accents of encouragement:
“Though your eyes will not be able to behold me, yet unseen by you I will be your guide through life. I will dwell in your hearts and cheer your path. When thou, O Man, dost till the ground in the sweat of thy face, I will show thee in the hazy distance waving fields of golden grain and blooming gardens, and thou shalt fancy thyself in paradise. And when thou, O woman, shalt be in pain on account of bearing children, thou shalt behold an angel from heaven in the person of thy child, and shalt weep tears of joy.”
“Alas!” groaned the unhappy ones, “Wilt thou forsake us when we come to die, O hidden messenger of consolation?”
“No,” sounded the voice from the cloud, “most certainly not, but after the darkness of night has passed away, a glorious morning shall dawn upon you. When the hour of your death is drawing near, my cheering light will illumine your soul, causing you to see the celestial portal open to admit you.”
“But who then art thou, celestial messenger of consolation?” queried they.
“I am Hope,” was the reply, “the daughter of Faith and Love.”
Then the cloud descended and encircled our first parents, so that they could not see their angelic visitant. But they were comforted and cheered.
There are times in our lives when we grow tired of fighting our everyday battles, and all of our life becomes dark and gloomy.
In our hearts, we begin to feel as though there will never be an end to our struggles.
Our minds conspire against us and tell us that we are making no progress and accomplishing nothing in our attempts to combat the world, the flesh and the devil.
The remedy to this depressing state is hope.
Hope for the future and that the world will one day be a better place…
Hope that we will make a difference in our lives and that of others….
Hope that we will one day be happy with God in heaven if we fight the good fight and bravely persevere in running the good race…
These past couple of months have been difficult for me and the struggle has been nearly unbearable. However, God has always placed little things in my life to give me hope when I really needed help.
One morning, when I was having a very tough time, I came home to see our spring lilacs blooming in mid-November! It brightened my day, and brought me cheer for nearly a week.
However, the flowers soon died, and I found myself once again worn out with the constant battle for my soul. Then God sent me another message of hope. The following Sunday, as I was on my way home from Mass, I passed by a line of cherry trees which were blooming! I could hardly believe my eyes since it was already the last Sunday of November!
I have taken these two instances as a sign from God that I need to try to focus more on entrusting all of my cares and worries into His Hands.
Sometimes, our struggles are more than just a little tough, and it is not easy to remember to have hope when all the world around us tells us to despair.
I have found that, memorizing little idioms or phrases to which I can refer in times of trouble, helps me to persevere and find the strength to keep fighting.
Here are some that help me:
Quare triste est anima mea? Et Quare conturbas me?
(Why art thou sad, oh my soul, and why dost thou disquiet me?)
Spera in Deo…quoniam… (Hope in God…for…)
Justorum animae in manu Dei sunt et no tanget illos tormentum malitiae.
(The souls of the just are in the Hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them.)
Constantly saying these phrases to myself often helps me when I am fighting despair.
Seek out the little things that give you hope and joy and remember them when your life is hard. I cannot promise that it will offer you immediate relief. However, over time, you will probably find that doing this does eventually help.
Is it not worth at least a try?