Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
His school teacher called him ‘addled’ or ‘mentally ill’. He was deemed unfit for school education in the 1800s as he was dyslexic, though research on dyslexia began only in the 1900s. Because of constant labeling and lack of help and support from the school front, the boy’s mother met the school authorities and said, “All right, I am hereby taking my son out of your school. I’ll instruct him at home myself.” The little boy, who could hardly believe his ears, looked up at his mother, the wonderful woman who believed in him and promised himself that he would make his mother proud of him. And he did that! Thomas Alva Edison held more than 1000 patents for his inventions which included the incandescent electric light bulb and the phonograph among others. Later in life, Edison said, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” His mother’s faith in him gave Edison a hope for the future.
Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm at the age of 13 when she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. Having begun competitive surfing since she was 8 years, she felt her world darken after the attack. In Bethany’s words, “As I grew up with one arm and relearned how to surf, God taught me that He can take the hard times that I went through and turn them into something beautiful. I think that He can do that for each and every one of you. He can take what you have been through and use it for good if you are willing to share what He has done for you.” Hamilton is 26 years old now and enjoys the companionship of a wonderful husband and a son. Her story has been beautifully captured in the movie SOUL SURFER, and continues to inspire others not to give up on themselves…or on God.
Nick Vujicic was born in Melbourne, Australia with phocomelia, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of legs and arms. Throughout his childhood, Nick dealt not only with the typical challenges of school and adolescence, such as bullying and self-esteem issues, he also struggled with depression and loneliness as he questioned why he was different from all the other kids. He couldn’t get the haunting question of “Why was I the one born without arms and legs?” out of his head. He wondered if he would ever find love, marry and hold anyone in his arms. Nick is 34 today and is blessed with a loving wife and two precious sons. In Nick’s words, “Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose….I found the purpose of my existence, and also the purpose of my circumstance. There’s a purpose for why you’re in the fire. If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart.”
These are some stalwarts whom hope kept alive. Not only did they have a mere existence, but a fulfilling life impacting millions across the globe.
More than 2000 years ago when man remained doomed for eternity, God Almighty stepped down from His Heavenly glory to reach out to man – to reconcile sinner men to a Holy God. With the birth of Jesus Christ – God as man, the threat of condemnation was removed and the gateway of eternal life was held wide open. As a child, I used to think whether life was all about eating, drinking, studying, working, having a family, doing good to others, having faith in God and so on… What after that? Is there anything to look forward to beyond this? Then the following Scripture portion created a hope for eternity with God within me:
“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him…”
I wish to extend the same HOPE to all the readers today. No matter how trying your life has been, there is HOPE. No matter how this year has been till now, there is HOPE. There is HOPE not because of the assurance that things would be perfect in the days to come, but because of the assured strength that God gives to those who love Him in the midst of suffering and trials.
Here’s wishing you HOPE this Christmas and an assured HOPE for the New Year!!!