At a spiritual gathering I was attending a couple of years ago, a group discussion centered on Faith and why it was important in our lives. One person answered that “Faith gives me a reason to Hope, and Hope is a very important part in my life.”
Her comment led me to think more about the idea of Hope and where it can take us. Faith, hope and charity are often referenced together when talking about the great values of our human lives. Hope can certainly provide us with a bridge across our periods of discouragement, fear, despair and many crises. When the negative events of life begin to dominate our view, and we begin to doubt either the worthwhileness of life, the betterment of our circumstances, or the goodness of our neighbors, Hope helps us transcend that bleakness and instead see a different vision in our mind’s eye.
Hope can replace negativity with positivity. It can help us see a present unhappy circumstance as only temporary, not permanent. It can allow us to seek out the better side of humanity that we know exists even in the midst of our inhumanity. It can make it possible for us to see the muddy stream, yet be aware that the mud only masks the clear water that contains it. Hope can translate the small events and painful circumstances of our day into a more desirable context and larger purpose that makes today more comprehensible, and for “tomorrow to [truly] be a better day.”
But Hope is not a goal unto itself, nor an endpoint. It is a vehicle for us in traveling our spiritual journey, but it is not our destination. Ultimately, Hope seeks to be transitory, to be replaced by Certainty. Faith is the starting point, the foundation of what we have come to believe. Hope is the vehicle that moves our beliefs into those things positive in our lives, transcending the stifling negatives. But Certainty grounds and underpins our Faith with conviction, a true knowing that validates our faith, without doubts. It is not a certainty that leads to arrogance, nor a disrespect of the beliefs of others. It is not a certainty that locks us into place, leaving no room for spiritual growth, learning, expansion or higher knowledge. It requires no speeches, no outreach to convince others of our rightness. It is a quiet Certainty, an unthreatened calmness of spirit that need not be proved nor justified to others. It is a Certainty reinforced by the larger truths unfolding in one’s life in spite of all the bumps, distractions, and seeming temporary setbacks.
It was only partially important what the great spiritual teachers said to us over the centuries. It was also the clarity and conviction behind those messages that mattered. It is in Certainty that our Faith is truly fulfilled, that Hope is realized, even in the face of seemingly overwhelming doubt. Of this I am certain.