Virtues are good habits of character. No one’s come up with a better way to be happy than to discover how to practice Justice, Courage, Self-Control, Prudence, Faith, Hope, and Love. They are the seven main virtues. They give us more peace inside and out.
In this seven-week series, we dig into a different virtue every week. Welcome to Week Six: Hope.
I rely on you, Lord, my spirit relies on your promise (Psalm 129).
A sign in my neighborhood reads, “Hope Anchors the Soul.” The anchor has been a symbol of hope for centuries, but I didn’t really understand why. Hope is about something good that we don’t have yet – something possible to get, but we’re still waiting or striving for it. Like a birthday boy hopes for Star Wars Legos or his mom hopes for a promotion. But an anchor is just the opposite: deep below us, it is weighty and solid. It restricts the free movement of a ship. So how can hope be like an anchor?
To find out, I call my brother Bill, a ship’s captain, to get his take. He corrects me: “An anchor doesn’t restrict my movement at all,” he says. “It travels on board the ship until I decide it should be dropped. When the anchor is down, it keeps me solid in one place. The anchor keeps the wind, sea, and current from moving me where I don’t want to go. Like a sail,” he says, “it’s a tool I use to get where I want to go.” He adds that being at anchor is a time of needed rest from the constant work of navigating.
Relating that to his spiritual life, he said that finances or sickness are like a storm blowing him off course into fear or despair. Without the anchor of hope, disappointments and frustrations can overcome him like high waves can overcome a ship. Hope in God’s promises keeps his soul safely “at rest,” even when the wind of doubt howls and the waves of adversity crash around him.
An anchor providing rest got my attention. Because hope that God will draw me to himself (if I stay open) saves me from thinking I have to make everything happen – that it’s me who achieves my goals (and makes them!). Thanks to Captain Bill, my new motto when I’m feeling overwhelmed is, “Drop anchor!” Which means that with hope, I can detox from self-reliance and “rest” my soul in the unchanging God who made the sea and everything in it.
Here are three of God’s promises to help you drop-anchor in choppy seas. Scroll down and share which one speaks to you most today:
- Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:31-33).
- For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
- For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future full of hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
This landlubber wishes you clear skies and smooth sailing!
This messge shows me I don’t have to punish myself when I can’t or I don’t are used in a sentence. I know living alone means I am the only one to perform. I drop anchors everywhere, and my body says thank you. I’m fine with that answer.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Nancy!
To me, this is he most powerful virtue in all my world! Thank you so much for this lovely explanation Rose! Be still my heart…and be strong my hope!!
Thank you, Jini!
I rely on Jer 29:11. I have been very ill and weak for about 2yrs now. I know I have severe depression, I have had that for about 40yrs. This is different and I was to my Dr many times. I was sent to a Neurologist 2 mo ago and he said I had ALS which turns out I do not thank God. I go through every day feeling very bad and because of this promise I wake up every morning and praise God because I know an answer is coming.
I just got back from a Mass with healing prayers (laying on of hands by priests). I prayed for everyone who needs healing, so little did I know until now that you were included in my prayers today. May God make your suffering fruitful in building up His Kingdom and bringing souls to His Son.
God bless you,
In the space of five years I endured the deaths of nine close family members: my father and brother( within sixteen hours of each other), my remaining aunts and uncles, and my father-in-law and brother -in-law(a suicide) within days of each other. The most painful loss was watching helplessly as my beloved husband died lying in our bed from a pulmonary embolism on Pentecost of 2013.
After facing so much loss people still ask me how I’ve managed to bear the pain. Those who really know me understand that I try my best to walk with the Lord everyday. They know He is my anchor, giving me strength and hope when all seems lost. Every day of my life I’m reminded that I’m a weak human being and that I need and want God. How freeing it is to know that I’m grounded in His love!
Thanks for sharing your story. It will give others more hope! And yes, so true that acknowledging we’re weak is the beginning of our strength (in Him).
Thanks Rose for your insights. I like the idea of Hope as resting in god– keeping you in place — the other day i heard a great remark about a saint– that when she would wake up– the devil would say– “oh no, she’s up!” for some strange reason that gave me hope– the idea that after a night’s rest we can start all over again to bring others to Christ!!! And that the devil doesn’t like what we do. Anyway– that’s my crazy 2 cents worth.
That is very funny. Lots of readers will enjoy it — “Oh no, she’s up.” That’s in my repertoire of quotes now.
I like the archaic definition of hope: a feeling of trust. Today hope is defined as aspiration, desire, wish, or expectation. It has something to do with the relationship between you and the talents given you by God. We all know the parable of the talents and what happened to the man who buried his. We all know about the downtrodden Israelites wandering the desert, carrying their slave mentality with them. After all they WERE slaves under the Egyptians who told them that’s what they were. Then God says “Have them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” They never got an offer like that! Hope! A new deal! What a difference. They didn’t just put in their time, they did their best; “Over the top” in modern parlance.
When I was young I had a shortage of hope and never imagined good outcomes. Somebody’s going to find out I don’t know anything. As a shield I spouted dark humor: “Is there life after birth?” “You’re born, you struggle for a while, then they shut the lid.” I even completed two advanced degrees but didn’t keep copies of the dissertations because I didn’t expect anything to come of them. They were supposed to be milestones on the way to tenure and prestige. But who says that has to be the journey? I got my rewards out of curiosity, study, experiment, writing. And teaching.
Then the opportunity of my life came along 27 years ago. My wife had a stroke leaving her paralyzed on her left side. That was the first “stroke” of luck. If it had been her right side she wouldn’t be able to talk. she likes to talk, so we talk. Next thing, caregivers burn out rather quickly when faced with the daunting tasks of basic care; lots of laundry, lots of dealing with bodily functions, dressing, undressing.
She’s the love of my life and my lab rabbit. It’s become a journey of curiosity, study, experiment. Like my dissertations, the effort is its own reward. Much stuff doesn’t work, just as in science. But hope keeps us going, anticipating what might be around the next corner. It’s not passive hope, it’s a matter of taking risks with our talents, the gifts from God that generate hope with their very use. You can keep going quite a while with that.
Let’s hear it for taking risks with our talents!