Man can experience two kinds of hope. First, we have ordinary hope that may or may not stem from virtue. We can hope for good fortune, and we can hope for disaster to strike those who impede our good fortune, for example. The second, supernatural hope, is instilled in us at baptism. As a theological virtue, it orients our natural hopes to the will of God and fills us with the courage to press forward through all of the assaults of the devil and every misfortune.
How Does Christian Hope Work?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this (and more) to say about the special virtue of hope: ...The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the "hope that does not disappoint" (Rom 5:5). Hope is the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul..." Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation....It affords us joy even under trial: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation" (Rom 12:12).
It is God who sustains hope in us. After all, fallen man has no power to lift himself up in hope. The hope of attaining perfect happiness with God at the end of our difficult journey on Earth must have a divine guarantee. However, because the virtue of hope comes from God and is good for us, rest assured the devil never sleeps in his effort to rob us of it.
The Enemies of Hope
Although Satan can't remove from us a theological virtue, he can try to confuse us with lies. Against hope, he tries to sink us into despair. If that fails, he takes a different tack and attempts to lead us into the sin of presumption.
If we can't accept the truth of God's love and mercy, we come to believe that we are unlovable and worthless. We can wrongly think that our sins are so great that God would never forgive them no matter if we admit them with all remorse and sorrow.
If the evil one can't overcome our feeble understanding of our tremendous value to God, then he'll propose that God loves us so much that we can't separate ourselves from His salvation no matter what we do. He'll fill our heads with the idea that once we're saved, we're always saved, so we can go ahead and submit to temptation and continue to sin just as egregiously as we please with no regrets.
Experiencing True Hope
But hope exposes despair and presumption for what they are: big lies. God never created a human He didn't love infinitely and eternally. He desires all men to be saved, even when He knows plenty of us will ultimately reject Him. Furthermore, hope cautions us that our sin signifies a denial of God and does, indeed, separate us from Him. Because God knows well how we are terminally weak, He provides us with the Sacrament of Penance by which we can restore our relationship with Him after we've lost it to sin. The Sacrament reveals a huge sign of hope for us. True hope expels despair and presumption as the sun banishes the night.
Bethesda Healing Ministry offers loving, practical help to restore hope to those deeply wounded by abortion. Please contact us today to learn more.