The Hope of Despair

BY Audra

December 18, 2013

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Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything under the sun.

The Christian calendar says Advent is the time for (among other things) hope.

So what do we do when we do not feel hopeful during Advent? Do we say, “Welp, maybe next year” ? Do we guilt ourselves into feeling falsely hopeful? How do we handle this declared time of hope during a time in our lives that feels only desperate? If this has not happened to you yet—if you’ve managed to live all the years of your life without experiencing sadness or some other emotion adverse to the meaning of Advent during this season—then trust us. It almost assuredly will happen someday—because life and tragedy do not care about timing or the Christian calendar.

What lesson is there to learn from feeling like we are in opposition to what is supposed to be? Surely the lesson is not that we’re wrong, or that life is unfair.

If you’ve ever felt hopeless during the Advent season, consider how Bob Cratchit felt. Better yet, consider how Ebenezer Scrooge felt. Consider how the teenaged, pregnant, virgin Mary felt.

It’s not wrong to feel hopeless. But the beauty of hopelessness is that, without simple hope, the absence of hope—despair—could not exist. To know hopelessness, we must have at some time or other known hope. Right?

Hellen Keller once said that, in a life full of only joy, no one would ever know bravery or patience. In a life without despair, then, would we ever know hope?

Perhaps you don’t know hope today. But I’m willing to bet that you have, at one time. Cling to your memory of hope. It will come around again. Nothing—good or bad—lasts forever.


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