We live in uncertain times. In less than a year, United States went from having five major investment banks to only one. The banks that are in trouble are considering, or have agreed to, buy-outs from foreign-owned businesses. Some economists predict that we may have two years of financial crisis before things sort themselves out. Others predict that the banking and mortgage crises are only the first of the shoes to fall, that we will have to answer for our credit card debts and failing manufacturing sector. No economists are painting a rosy picture for the immediate future; economic recovery appears to be slow, gentle and several years in the making.
So if you can’t hang on to your job, your money, your 401K or your home in these uncertain times, what do you grasp?
I had this discussion with my husband the other day. I wondered aloud if we were wise to bear and raise a child into this uncertain world. He said, “But she may the one who figures a way out of the mess. Or she may befriend the person who does.”
He’s right, of course. Our children are our hope of a better future because they are the future. Hope and love are the things that you hang on to and have faith in. They are the only things that matter, not tangible perhaps, but real. They are also the things that survive hardship.
A New Testament scholar penned a thought in Hebrews that can be translated: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what you cannot see.”
Faith in a better future, whether you ascribe to a higher power or Christian God or not, requires being sure of what you hope for and sure of what you cannot see. The only way to be sure and certain is to live in love and hope, to experience first hand the real power that love and hope have to shape the future.
During the Great Depression, people who had put their faith only in things that they could see (like wealth, big houses and yachts) jumped from the windows of Wall St. skyscrapers, but others, people who had lost everything but still had their families around them, who hoped for a better future, continued to struggle and work for what they could not see, or even know, in their lifetimes. The ones who jumped had no hope, and didn’t know the power of love. The ones who struggled on lived love and had hope.
The importance of hope in surviving hard times is illustrated by the fact that our society gravitates to those with a hopeful message. When the Great Depression hit, Hoover did not offer hope and did not publicly show much love; FDR did, and people responded. Hope lifts the veil of depression, both psychological and fiscal.
Love is what drives a person to give up time and work in a soup kitchen or sew cancer pads or make quilts for the women’s shelter. Love is what keeps two people working hard at a marriage for over fifty years. Love is what keeps a parent from strangling the teenage son or daughter. When someone donates time or money or themselves to help others, it shows us that not everybody is out for quick profit and instant gratification. There is still good in the world. Seeing love in action gives us hope.
That line in Hebrews says something else as well. It says that faith is borne out of doubt—out of uncertainty. We hope and we cannot see; doubting is natural and healthy. Doubt about the future helps make us more responsible in our actions and more likely to help others. Because of doubt, we reach out in love with hope for a better future.
These are uncertain times, but when my daughter smiles or my husband hugs me or I see the eyes of a child light up over some small discovery, I am sure of what I hope for and certain of what I cannot see.
© 2008, 2009 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.