I recently finished reading Mike Pacer’s Mercy and Hope and it left me feeling… well… completely hopeful! It seems that in our world today, many become overwhelmed and begin to feel hopeless. Why do so many lose hope in the midst of their temporary circumstances?
Maybe it is because they have not been told about the mercy and love of God. As Christians, we can point to and provide the Hope that is often lost. This book inspired me to not only grow in the virtue ofhope myself, but also to extend that mercy and hope I’ve found to others.
What is hope?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it more beautifully than I ever could:
“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”84 “The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.” – CCC 1817-18
How can we find hope when we feel hopeless?
Here are 4 suggestions I found in the book Mercy and Hope.
1. Know the reason for your hope. God.
God alone is both the reason for and the source of our hope. He provides the strength for us to be able to find hope in all circumstances through the many graces He pours upon us and the gift of His Holy Spirit. Though the world will try to distract us, we must keep our focus on God.
2. Read the Bible, as well as the teachings of the Catholic Church and writings of the Saints.
Reading and re-reading the stories of those who have gone before us will give us the inspiration to place our hope in God. Knowing that the God of today is the same God of yesterday and of the future, we can be confident that He will provide for us in the same way that He has provided for all men and women who have gone before us and placed their trust in Him.
3. Attend Mass and actively take part in the Sacraments.
“The practice of hope can sometimes be a physical act. We might attend Mass, sit before the tabernacle, kneel before the exposed host, visit a pilgrimage site, verbalize some prayer or maybe even just whisper the words, ‘Jesus, I trust in you!’- even when we feel no consolation while doing these things.”
4. Persevere and Rejoice.
We know that everyone experiences suffering and trials. It is during these times that we must choose to have hope or we will end up in despair. God wants you to place your hope and trust in Him. We must spend time in prayer to keep our focus on God as the source of all hope. Ask God to help you find hope in the midst of great pain and trouble. He will provide it. When we are in prayer and a relationship with God, we will be reminded of His love for us and that He will never abandon us.
Feeling encouraged? I only just began to summarize a few of the excellent tips that you can find in the book Mercy and Hope by Mike Pacer. As you can see, this has truly been one of those books that changes the way you think about life. I feel that my hope has been renewed.