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Published September 16, 2011, 12:00 AM

Val Farmer: Hope can conquer fear, despair in tough times

A dear friend of mine is fighting cancer. Here are some thoughts on hope to sustain her – and us as we encounter life’s difficult challenges.

By: By Val Farmer, INFORUM

A dear friend of mine is fighting cancer. Here are some thoughts on hope to sustain her – and us as we encounter life’s difficult challenges.

Hope is essential for life. “The Lord wants us to be filled with hope – not just because it points us to a brighter tomorrow but because it changes the quality of our lives today. Hopeless may be the saddest word in our language. Despair is the enemy of our souls. It can paralyze us, halt our progress and cause us to lose our way. But hope awakens us like a light shining in the darkness.” – Dwan J. Young

“What is the opposite of hope? Despair, of course, but despair comes when we feel powerless to influence events and when the sources of meaning in our life disappear. Despair is a kind of disorientation so profound that we lose contact with the sources of life itself.” – Chieko Okazaki

“… Joyce Audrey Evans, a young mother in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was having trouble with a pregnancy. She went to the hospital, where one of the nurses told her she would probably lose the baby. Evans replied: ‘But I can’t give up. … You have to give me hope.’ She later recalled: ‘I couldn’t give up hope until all reason for hope was gone. It was something I owed to my unborn child.’

“Three days later she had a miscarriage. She wrote: ‘For one long moment, I felt nothing. Then a profound feeling of peace flowed through me. With the peace came understanding. I knew now why I couldn’t give up hope in spite of all the circumstances: You either live in hope or you live in despair. Without hope, you cannot endure…’” – James E. Faust

“Without hope, we despair. To live in despair is not to live.” – Elaine Jack

“It is necessary to hope, though hope should always be deluded; for hope itself is happiness, and its frustrations, however frequent, are yet less dreadful than its extinction.” – Samuel Johnson

“The sources of hope are the sources of life itself. That’s why hope persists, even when experience, reason, and knowledge all say there is no reason to hope. Hope does not calculate odds. … It is prepared for either sunny or stormy weather. To choose hope is to choose life. To choose hope is to choose love.” – Chieko Okazaki

Hope gives us perspective. “Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.’ … Hope sweetens the memory of experiences well loved. It tempers our troubles to our growth and our strength. It befriends us in dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination.” – Samuel Smiles

“Hope is a pleasant acquaintance, but an unsafe friend; not the man for your banker, though he may do for a traveling companion.”

– Thomas C. Haliburton

“The propensity to hope and joy is real riches; one to fear and sorrow, real poverty.”

– David Hume.

“Hope – of all ills that men endure, the only cheap and universal cure; the captive’s freedom, and the sick man’s health, the lover’s victory, and the beggar’s wealth.” – Crowley

“To say [hope] is an anchor is to say it can keep us from drifting aimlessly or getting caught in whirlpools or running into sandbars. Hope, the anchor, is essential in this world so full of tidal waves. Sometimes those waves slap us from behind, sometimes we see them coming but cannot stop them or get out of the way. In all cases hope ties us to safety. The waves come and go in their fury or playfulness, but hope is always there if we will but use this sure anchor.”

– Elaine Jack

Hope moves us to action. “Where there is no hope, there can be no endeavor.” – Samuel Johnson

“When we have no hope for tomorrow, we do not move as effectively today. It is hope combined with faith that motivates us to plant the seed, that moves us when we’re too weary, that causes us to take the first step and then another.” – Elaine Jack

“Real hope keeps us ‘anxiously engaged’ in good causes even when these appear to be losing causes. Real hope stiffens, not slackens, the spine. ... Hope is realistic anticipation which takes the form of a determination – not only to survive adversity but, moreover, to endure.” – Neal A. Maxwell

Hope strengthens faith. “Hope is the last thing that dies in man, and though it be exceedingly deceitful, yet it is of this good use to us, that while we are traveling though life it conducts us in an easier and more pleasant way to our journey’s end.” – Francois Rochefoucauld

“Religion is the mother of dreams. Over the gray world, ruined by deluge and desolation and death, it has sought ever, and found the arching rainbow of hope.” – A. E. Haydon

“The world dares to say no more for its device, than ‘While I live, I hope’; but the children of God can add by virtue of a living hope, ‘While I expire, I hope.’ ” – Robert Leighton

“Hope proves a man deathless. It is the struggle of the soul, breaking loose from what is perishable, and attesting her eternity.” – Henry Melville

“Hope is the best part of our riches. – What sufficeth it that we have the wealth of the Indies in our pockets, if we have not the hope of heaven in our souls?” – Christian Bovee


Val Farmer is a clinical psychologist specializing in family business consultation and mediation with farm families. He lives in Wildwood, Mo., and can be contacted through his website, www.valfarmer.com.

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