the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give up hope.
a particular instance of this feeling: the hope of winning.
grounds for this feeling in a particular instance: There is little or no hope of his recovery.
a person or thing in which expectations are centered: The medicine was her last hope.
something that is hoped for: Her forgiveness is my constant hope.
to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
to believe, desire, or trust: I hope that my work will be satisfactory.
to feel that something desired may happen: We hope for an early spring.

Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope implies a certain amount of despair, wanting, wishing, suffering or perseverance — i.e., believing that a better or positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary. There are times in our life when things don’t go so well. In these times of pain and suffering it is easy to lose faith in ourselves and the people around us. Hope is the expectation of something better tomorrow. Hope is a powerful light that helps us navigate through the dark night to the new dawn.

Hope is that distant destination, that by keeping it in sight, makes our journey bearable.Coach Traeger
When the world says, ”Give up,” Hope whispers, ”Try it one more time.”Author Unknown
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.Anne Lamott
A sailor without a destination cannot hope for a favorable wind.Leon Tec, M.D.
The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.Marian Zimmer Bradley

Fear, Hope, and Anxiety

Almost every waking moment of our temporal lives are filled with anxiety. Our anxiety is made up of the daily ebb and flow of fear, hope, and uncertainty. Fear as a feeling of displeasure about the prospect of an undesirable event; and hope as a feeling of pleasure about the prospect of a desirable event. We feel anxiety when we fear a bad outcome, hope for a good outcome, and are uncertain about which outcome will come to pass. For football coaches a great example of this anxiety happens every Friday night. We fear that we might lose, hope that we will win, and are uncertain which will occur.

These “anxiety emotions,” fear and hope depend on the desirability and likelihood of a prospective outcome—the yet to be determined outcome of an event. For example, fear is amplified as the degree of danger, the undesirability and/or likelihood of an outcome, increases. If I am fearful of getting sick, I am more fearful if the prospective illness is more undesirable: Given equal likelihood, I would be more fearful of coming down with cancer than merely getting a nasty cold. Similarly, the more likely I believe an undesirable outcome to be, the more fearful I may be of that outcome. If my entire family has the flu I am more fearful that I will come down with the bug. The converse is true concerning hope: The more desirable and likely an outcome seems the more hopeful we may feel.

The intensity of our “anxiety emotions,” fear and hope seem to rely on two features of a future event’s outcome: (1) its uncertainty and (2) the significance of what is at stake. These two features not only drive our fears and hopes surrounding all the minute suspense’s of our day, I believe they form the very foundation our cognitive existence.

The fear surrounding the question of whether this is a temporal or eternal existence. The hope that it is eternal and that we have either been given a ticket or are earning a ticket to that eternity. If the strongest “anxiety emotions” are to be found in cases where the outcome is very uncertain and the stakes are very high, I think the question of eternity would generate both the greatest fear and the greatest hope.

Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope implies a certain amount of despair, wanting, wishing, suffering or perseverance — i.e., believing that a better or positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary.

Beyond the basic definition, usage of the term hope follows some basic patterns which distinguish its usage from related terms:

Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.King Whitney Jr.
I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.Nelson Mandela
Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: ”Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.”Jürgen Moltmann
The force of hopelessness overwhelms him and oppress his soul; and this is a taste of hell because it produces a thousand temptations: confusion, irritation, protesting, self-injurious thoughts, evil thoughts, and wanderings from place to place. For one to rise from this state of despair and hopelessness, he must remain steadfast and have patience. He must be a person of faith even when there is no conviction or feeling that such would be appropriate. The person must take one day at a time and immerse themselves in prayer, reflection, and work. People with no hope need to find spiritual friends and a spiritual guide during this time. The 6th century Saint Isaac of Syria
Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.Ralph Waldo Emerson

History of Hope

Examples of hopes include hoping to get rich, hoping for someone to be cured of a disease, hoping to be done with a term paper, or hoping that a person has reciprocal feelings of love.

Hope was personified in Greek mythology as Elpis. When Pandora opened Pandora’s Box, she let out all the evils except one: hope. Apparently, the Greeks considered hope to be as dangerous as all the world’s evils. But without hope to accompany all their troubles, humanity was filled with despair. It was a great relief when Pandora revisited her box and let out hope as well. It may be worthy to note that in the story, hope is represented as weakly leaving the box but is in effect far more potent than any of the major evils.

In some faiths and religions of the world, hope plays a very important role. Buddhists and Muslims for instance, believe strongly in the concepts of free will and hope.

Hope can be passive in the sense of a wish, or active as a plan or idea, often against popular belief, with persistent, personal action to execute the plan or prove the idea. Consider a prisoner of war who never gives up hope for escape and, against the odds, plans and accomplishes this. By contrast, consider another prisoner who simply wishes or prays for freedom, or another who gives up all hope of freedom.

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.Christopher Reeve
Appetite, with an opinion of attaining, is called hope; the same, without such opinion, despair.Thomas Hobbes


A group of frogs was traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit.  All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump out of the pit with all of their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He fell down and died. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.George Iles
Take hope from the heart of man and you make him a beast of prey.Ouida
There is no virtue in feeling weak and helpless in the presence of that which is evil. There is no virtue to consider yourself totally at the mercy of all that is evil and sinful in the world and in your life. Rather it is a virtue that one always is ”rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation” and knowing and believing that the final victory is God’s and God’s alone.Romans 12:12


Each and every “transformation” of a human being starts with a change in their heart.  They put on a “new” man or woman.  The change in their heart is more often than not, initiated by a “promise” made to them.  In one of my favorite quotes is, “ A real leader kindles the vision of a breathtaking future so as to justify the sacrifice of a transitory present. “   That’s making a promise (kindling a vision).  We are promised that if we can maintain hope, keep the faith, and endure the sacrifices of this presently unbearable situation, when we come out the other end, we will have a rich reward…Glory.

We come to not only believe in that promise, but to treasure it.  People with weak wills have a hard time continuing to treasure a promise.  It is easy for them to break faith, be distracted by worldly enticements, believe the cries of other weak willed people, lose focus on the promise, lose hope and stray.  People with weak wills need constant encouragement.

The more you look around, the more it seems as though we live in a world with no hope.  Our faith in the promises of our leaders is waning.  Quite often, our leaders don’t even make promises anymore because they know that they will have a hard time fulfilling the promise.

It was once said that leaders are simply “dealers in hope”. So we have to ask all the leaders out there, every coach, every teacher, every pastor, every administrator, every manager, every politician, everyone who leads others……. What promise are you making to your follower’s that kindles in their hearts the vision of a breathtaking future so beautiful that it justifies the sacrifices of the transitory and painful present they are living in? How are you building hope?

What promise is motivating our teenagers to build their characters, excel academically, and graduate from high school?

What promise is motivating our teachers to teach enthusiastically and with inexhaustible patience towards students?

What promise is motivating company employees to work hard, sacrifice, and put the company first?

What promise, made by a politician that you supported, has stirred your heart so much so that you treasure it?

If you want to really build hope, then make your followers an honest promise that they will believe and treasure in their hearts so deeply that they will be willing to make today’s sacrifices for tomorrow’s rewards. Paint the picture!


By Peter Kreeft

We creatures of time are constantly moving into the future, and our eyes are usually facing forward. Hope is like headlights. No one can live without hope. We are constantly moving into the future, and our eyes are usually facing forward. Hope is like headlights. It is not easy to drive without headlights in the dark.

Hope is the life of the soul. A soul without hope is a dead soul. The Russian novelist Gogol wrote a story with the haunting title Dead Souls. I find the phrase unforgettable, especially when I look carefully into the eyes of some street people and also some very famous people. There really are such things as dead souls. Just as the body is dead when its source of life, the soul, is gone, so a soul is dead when its source of life is gone. That source is the spirit. The spirit’s life-giving work in the soul is to give it a reason to live and a reason to die, in other words, hope. Hope is the soul’s food. Without it the soul simply cannot live.

Freud says, sagely, that the two things everyone needs are love and work, and work means hope: a reason to get out of bed in the morning, a reason for doing anything. Our modern society finds it harder to find reasons for getting out of bed than any other society that has ever been. It also finds it easier to find reasons for getting into bed than any other society that has ever been. We know no reason to get out of bed and every reason to get in.

Hope is the forgotten virtue of our time because hope — real hope, the theological virtue of hope, as distinct from the vague sentiment of hopefulness, or optimism — means something scandalously transcendental, something offensively supernatural, to the modern mind. That mind dare not raise its eyes to the sky; its nose-to-the-grindstone worldliness cannot understand or respect the otherworldly goal. It can do nothing but invent sneering names for the goal like “escapism” and “pie in the sky bye and bye”.

Hopelessness means living in a squashed, low, flat, one dimensional world, a ranch-style universe, where the sky is only a flat, painted ceiling a few feet above your head. Hope, on the other hand, means living in a universe in which it is possible to climb mountains and stand outdoors, where the terrifying and wonderful winds of heaven whip through your hair. Hope gives us height, and room. It puts us outdoors, outside this stuffy little idol called society, in a cosmos that sprouts turrets and spires.

In an age of hope men looked up at the night sky and saw “the heavens”. In an age of hopelessness they call it simply “space”. Emptiness has replaced fullness. Where our ancestors heard “the music of the spheres” our contemporaries hear only “the eternal silence of those infinite spaces that fills me with terror”, as Pascal pointedly puts it.

The concept of hope has been hopelessly trivialized by the modern mind, just as the concept of faith has. just as “I believe” usually means merely “I feel”, so “I hope” usually means only “I wish” or “wouldn’t it be nice if….” But the virtue of hope, is not a wish or a feeling; it is a rock-solid certainty, a guarantee, an anchor. Feelings are subject to every wind of chance and change, from politics to digestion. But the virtue of hope has a foundation. It is a house built upon a rock, and that rock is virtue.

Gabriel Marcel, the French philosopher, defines hope as “the affirmation that there exists, beyond all data, all inventories, and all calculations, a mysterious principle [principium, source, origin, not abstract statement or formula] that is in connivance with me, that cannot but will that which I will if what I will deserves to be willed and is in fact willed with the whole of my being”.

Hope means that the reason I must choose life is that at the heart of reality life is chosen. Hope means that when I say “it is better to be than not to be”, I am not expressing a prejudice or even a feeling but a fact; that all things that exist join me in a cosmic chorus of approval.

Thus when I hope against hope that my friend will recover from a disease the doctors assure me is fatal, I am not playing the game of predictions and statistical averages against the doctors but prophetically asserting something about the nature of ultimate reality: that it is on my side in willing life over death, that death is the rind or epidermis or outer appearance of life, not vice versa; that ultimate reality is not this indifferent cosmos but an infinitely caring and loving will.

One cannot overemphasize hope because the only alternative is despair, which is worse than death. Better to die in hope than to live in despair, as Charles discovered at the end of Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities, when he said of his chosen martyrdom, “It is a far, far better thing I do than ever I have done.” Despair is the silhouette of hope: it defines the shape of hope by its absence. You never appreciate a thing as sharply as when it is taken from you.

Hope builds bridges — between faith and love, between believers and non-believers, between present and future, between earth and heaven.

Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There’s so little hope for advancement.Charles M. Schulz
Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.Lin Yutang
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.Anne Lamott

When we possess the hope and belief that ultimately we are going to reach our destination, the painful side trips and accidents are much easier to handle. These negative events are merely obstacles in our path to overcome and many of them actually propel us towards our destination even faster when we come down the other side. Hope turns temporary obstacles into permanent blessings.

The Virtue of Hope

“Virtuous” hope must be distinguished from the many false hopes that surround us daily and are constant sources of temptation. We hope for wealth, beauty, fame, success, and a comfortable life. But these are mainly vanities. They will not furnish us with what satisfies our deepest longing. They are temporal. Hope is essential, for no human being can endure its opposite — despair.

In his great poem, The Divine Comedy, Dante penned what may be his most celebrated line when he inscribed over the entranceway to hell these words: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here”. The immediate meaning, that hell is a place of absolute finality where hope is no longer possible, is clear enough.

But there is a subtler and perhaps more important meaning that pertains not to the inhabitants of hell but to those whose final destinies have not yet been determined. This slightly veiled meaning informs people about how they can book passage to hell. For if hell is a place without hope, then by living without hope one is preparing for eternal tenancy in hell. When we live without hope, we take on the hopeless condition of hell, and at the same time make it our logical destiny. What we need, therefore, is an endless hope so that our lives do not come to a hopeless end.

One of the stormiest, if not the stormiest cape in the world is the Cape of Good Hope, located near the southern tip of Africa where the powerful currents of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans converge. When Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias discovered this cape in 1488, he called it, fittingly, the Cape of Storms. Later King John II of Portugal renamed it “Cape of Good Hope” in anticipation of finding a sea route to India. Vasco da Gama later proved the king right when he sailed around the cape and discovered the long-sought passage to India.

In this story, history and symbolism come together. The hope of finding a sea route to India was eventually fulfilled because hope had been kept alive. This is the historical fact. But added to this is the symbolism that the hope was a good hope inasmuch as it was forged in a climate of difficulty. The stormy cape provided the crucible in which hope was tested and purified so that it could emerge as “good hope.” As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “Hope never spread her golden wings but in unfathomable seas.”

Real hope is not crushed by disappointment. In fact, it is in difficulty that hope often is born. As Chesterton said, “As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is a mere flattery or platitude; it is when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength at all.

Virtuous hope, therefore, has the qualities of realism, courage, patience, and the willingness to embrace difficulties. By contrast, what we might describe as “worldly hope” lacks these virtuous qualities and is merely a wish for better things that has the aura of vanity or fantasy.

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

By: Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers……. that perches in the soul……… and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all, and sweetest in the gale is heard; ………..and sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird that kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chilliest land and on the strangest sea, yet never, in extremity did it asked a crumb of me.

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.Woodrow Wilson
What we hope ever to do with ease that which we may learn first to do with diligence.Samuel Johnson


A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for  which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own  imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side?

That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.Robert H. Goddard
Approach each new problem not with a view of finding what you hope will be there, but to get the truth, the realities that must be grappled with. You may not like what you find. In that case you are entitled to try to change it. But do not deceive yourself as to what you do find to be the facts of the situation.Bernard M. Baruch


Hope is engrained in our very nature. Hope is what enables us to endure the agonies and ecstasies of our lifelong pursuit of joy. When hope lessons, our souls suffer. We can help those around us who are suffering from a lack of hope in their lives. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Help them focus on areas of their life that are more positive. When one area of life is lost or suffering, other areas can play an important role in keeping one motivated and energized.  Engage them in supportive and encouraging conversations about other areas of their life – their hobbies, interests, skills, and relationships with others. Look for opportunities to help them stay connected and build up the more positive areas of their life.
  2. The road to back to joy is filled with many ups and downs, the accompanying emotions of hope and disappointment can feel like a roller coaster ride.  First the hope of success followed by the let down when it doesn’t work out.  Trying to remain emotionally stable and spiritually focused through these ups and downs can be very difficult. It is important for them to have an encourager, a sounding board, someone to walk with them to help regain their perspective as needed and keep them encouraged. Look for opportunities to be that person.
  3. Give constant positive encouragement.  Remind them of their strengths and their important contributions to their team, friends, family, and loved ones. Remind them that they are empowered, supported, and connected. Help them see the goodness of the world and how their spirit will endure through these troubling times.
  4. People who have lost hope all have a measure of shame and embarrassment.  Be careful not to rub salt in an already painful wound.  Think before you speak and check your comments to be sure they are not laden with guilt or humiliation.  Even though your motive may be to prompt ideas for growth, insensitive advice often adds pain.  And, as a result, as a way of protection, they will begin to share less with you.  Instead, keep the door of communication open.  This current struggle in their life may simply be part of a plan to redirect them or make them stronger.  It is hard to see others suffer through difficult times.  Naturally, you want to do all you can to get them through it as quickly as possible. But be patient with them and their life’s path to joy.
  5. Don’t force your personal expectations on them. Each person deals with life’s trials in their own way, depending on their backgrounds, their emotional foundation, spiritual perspective, physical health and abilities, and other stressors occurring in their life at the time of the struggle.  Be very careful not to expect them to respond the way you would, or did, in a similar situation.  Rather, meet them where they are and walk with them on their path.
  6. Stay connected to them. Many people as a way to protect themselves from the pain of dealing with someone struggling in life, begin to detach themselves from their relationship with the person struggling. This detachment can come in different forms – less frequent phone calls, more superficial conversations, not including them in social gatherings, not utilizing their abilities in the community.  This emotional distancing by friends adds to the struggling persons feelings of rejection and abandonment.  Be different from the others in their life. Look for opportunities to reaffirm your connection and strengthen your bond. Both of you will benefit.

And finally, and probably most importantly, we can confirm with the person struggling with hope, that little whisper in their ear.  That blip on their mental radar screen that they already detect. That they believe is hope.  Hope for joy. Hope for the satisfaction of their deepest needs, values, longings, and ideals.  That hope, though now distant, is coming closer every day.

What does hope do for mankind?

  • Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
  • Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
  • Hope energizes when the body is tired.
  • Hope sweetens when the bitterness bites.
  • Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
  • Hope believes when the evidence is eliminated.
  • Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
  • Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
  • Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.
  • Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
  • Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
  • Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
  • Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
  • Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
Hope is tomorrow’s veneer over today’s disappointment.Evan Esar
Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood…Make big plans, aim high in hope and work.Daniel H. Burnham
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.Epicurus

The Hope of Loving

By: Meister Eckhart

What keeps us alive, what allows us to endure? I think it is the hope of loving, or being loved. I heard a fable once about the sun going on a journey to find its source, and how the moon wept without her lover’s warm gaze. We weep when light does not reach our hearts. We wither like fields if someone close does not rain their kindness upon us.

If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother and hope your guardian genius.Joseph Addison
Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.John Wayne


A vacationing businessman was walking along a beach when he saw a young boy. Along the shore were many starfish that had been washed up by the tide and were sure to die before the tide returned. The boy walked slowly along the shore and occasionally reached down and tossed the beached starfish back into the ocean. The businessman, hoping to teach the boy a little lesson in common sense and futility, walked up to the boy and said, “I have been watching what you are doing, son. You have a good heart, and I know you mean well, but do you realize how many beaches there are around here and how many starfish are dying on every beach every day. Surely such an industrious and kind hearted boy such as yourself could find something better to do with your time.

Do you really think that what you are doing is going to make a difference?”

The boy looked up at the man, and then he looked down at a starfish by his feet. He picked up the starfish, and as he gently tossed it back into the ocean, he said,

“It makes a difference to that one”.

Young people have an almost biological destiny to be hopeful.Marshall Ganz
TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.Howard Zinn
It was never what I wanted to buy that held my heart’s hope. It was what I wanted to be.Lois McMaster
The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.Stephen Ambrose

The Interrelation of Faith and Hope

By Shannon Kincaid, Ph.D., Philip Pecorino, Ph.D.

At first glance, the relationship between faith and hope might seem obvious. People that have faith, have hope. People that have hope, have faith. Seemingly, a person cannot have one without the other.

Yet the situation is more complex than that. Many would argue that (1) they have faith because they need hope. Others might claim that (2) they have faith precisely because they have hope. Others might say that (3) people have hope because they need faith. Still others could argue that (4) people have hope because they have faith.

(1) seems like a cop-out. It reads like a bad version of Pascal’s wager. “I have faith because I need to hope for something.” This seems a self-serving justification for faith, be it religious or secular. (3) is almost as bad, and it is really just a inverted reformulation of (1). Claims (2) and (4) are trickier. Whether people have faith because they have hope or they have hope because they have faith carves out several subtle distinctions regarding the nature of justified true belief. Indeed, it seems possible that an incurable optimist might have hope without having faith, and that a fatalist might possess faith without hope.

In resolving this dilemma, the etymological foundations of the terms “faith” and “hope” are significant. “Faith” (from the latin fidere – to trust) is typically defined as a belief which expresses confidence in the truth, value, or veracity of something or someone, and is often characterized by an absence of verifiable empirical justification or logical proof.

There have been many descriptions of faith, be it religious or secular, but it is St. Anselm of Canterbury who captures best the essence of faith. “I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but I believe so that I may understand, and what is more I believe that ‘unless I do believe I shall not understand’ (Isaiah 7: 9).” (Proslogion, Opera Omnia 1).

This sentiment was expressed in the last century by Santayana, who argued that faith lies at the very core of human activity. For Santayana, like Hume before him, the uncertainties of human existence demanded a commitment to a set of assumptions that, while unprovable, made human action possible. As Hume demonstrated, we cannot prove that the sun will rise tomorrow, but we act as if it will. This, for Santayana, was the essence of human faith.

On these grounds, faith is an expression of a current state of affairs; it represents a belief that actually exists. Yet hope is different. It is directed towards the future. Where faith expresses a fact about the present, hope is directed at a future state of affairs.

“Hope” (OE hopian – confidence or trust) is an expression of what Husserl called “directed intentionality.” For Husserl, hope might best be understood as a confident expectation in the achievement of a desired state of affairs, and it was an example of what he called an “anticipated fulfillment of intention.”

If Husserl and Anselm are right, faith is something you possess in the present moment. It reflects a desired intention. Hope is the anticipated fulfillment of that intention; it deals with future states of affairs. On these grounds, faith is the result of current belief systems as shaped by experience, whereas hope is the product of desiring a future state of affairs. And while the two are intimately connected, (2) is the best expression of the relationship between faith and hope. One cannot have hope without faith. (4) incorrectly assumes that individual experience and current belief is a necessary and sufficient condition for the realization of intentions. This entails a premise stating that one can have faith without having hope. Yet the pessimistic fatalists have the upper hand in this argument when they demonstrate that one can have faith without hope.

However, one does not have to be an incurable optimist to claim that faith is a sufficient and necessary condition of hope. When people have hope they have faith, because they hold a belief that says “I believe that the future will be better.” And while they have no grounds to “prove” the hopeful assumption, they have faith in it. While faith without hope is possible, hope without faith is not. Thus faith is not sufficient for hope.

Some argued that (4) individuals have hope because they have faith. Such as might have this view are asked to consider that people have faith because they have hope. That is, consider whether or not children have hope or faith. Children can have hope (e.g. “give me food” is the directed intention of children), and faith (e.g. “hey, they give me food” is an oft-recurring mental state of children. A child’s faith in someone as a food-giver can be shaken, even destroyed, by a long absence. A child might have no realistic “hope” of receiving food, yet it can still believe that it will, somehow. This is the lesson of the book of Job. The truest faith often exists in the absence of the fulfillment of directed intention.

(2) is the best possible choice because it entails the claim that a person can have faith without hope, and that no one can have hope without faith. So when the claim is made that people have faith because they have hope it is in this sense true: Faith is a NECESSARY condition for hope: that no one can have hope without faith. Thus, if there is hope present you know that there is faith present as well.

Oxygen is necessary for fire.

If you have a fire you know that you have oxygen present.

Oxygen is not sufficient for fire- thank goodness!

Faith is necessary for hope but faith is NOT SUFFICIENT for hope because you can have faith about a number of things and yet no real hope.

One can have faith in an afterlife and no hope that one will meet with a desirable state of affairs when arriving there and for all the thereafter. So faith without hope is possible: hope without faith is not possible. (At least it is not possible for mentally stable people.)

Hope is always accompanied by faith.

Faith is almost always accompanied by hope- but not always.

It is a matter of primacy-not temporal but axiological.

People need to have faith because they need hope.

And so we have that :

a) it is not the case that (3) people have hope because they need to have faith.

b) it is not the case that (4) people have hope because they have faith. Faith is not sufficient for hope.

c) it is the case that (2) they have faith because they have hope. That is to say that we know that a person who has faith has it because they have hope and they could not have hope without having faith because faith is necessary for hope.

But what of the case (1) that was dismissed as being what amounts to a “cop out”; namely, that people have faith because they need hope? Many would argue that (1) people have faith because they need hope. But that position is not the sort arrived at through some wager ala Pascal. The sort of faith that would be the result of a process of reasoning as is prescribed by Pascal that would not be genuine faith. C.S. Peirce criticized the sort of doubt that was utilized by Descartes and commended to others as “methodic doubt” as not being genuine. Peirce termed it “paper doubt”. In a similar fashion faith arrived at for the sake of providing hope would be a weak faith, perhaps even a “paper faith”. So, in a prescriptive sense people having faith because people need hope (1) is to be rejected as being a self –serving sort of “cop out” with little intellectual legitimacy. This would be the case where a person was neutral with regard to faith or possessing no faith at all and is in the process of inquiry to determine what faith, if any, to have. Such cases seldom, if ever, occur. In a descriptive sense, however, examining the way in which people approach the review of their faith there is something different that occurs. People inherit faith (beliefs) and hold beliefs as part of acculturation. Once possessed of faith in that which provides meaning, value and comfort in the face of death most people will become tenacious with their faith out of fear of losing hope. The confrontation with existential angst of the terror of one’s absolute end drives many to flee into the comforting arms of faith. There they can be suckled with hope. So it is that describing what it is that does occur it can be argued that in fact people have or maintain their faith because they need hope. They do this when they have or believe that they have no alternative set of beliefs to serve them as their current faith does to provide them with a basis for hope.

Faith is the servant and server of hope.

While there’s life, there’s hope.Cicero
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.Anne Lamott
There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must of felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life. ” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.Alexandre Dumas


There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and was given 3 months to live. As she began getting her things ‘in order’, she called her pastor and asked for him to come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she wanted read, and what dress she wanted to be buried in. She also requested to be buried with her favorite Bible in her left hand. Everything was in order and as the pastor was preparing to leave, the woman suddenly remembered one final request that was very important to her. “Please Pastor, just one more thing,” she said excitedly. “Sure, what is it?” came the pastor’s reply. “This is very important to me,” the woman continued … “I want to be buried holding a fork in my right hand.” The pastor gazed at the woman, at a loss for words.

“That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the woman asked. The pastor replied “Well to be quite honest, I am puzzled by the request”.

The woman explained. “You see, Pastor, in all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I remember that when the dishes were being cleared after the main course, someone would inevitably lean over to me and say, ‘Keep your fork’ … it was my favorite part of the meal because I knew that something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep dish apple pie. Something wonderful to end the meal!”

The pastor listened intently and a smile came upon his face. The woman continued, “So, I just want people to see me there with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder … ‘What’s with the fork’… then I want you to tell them: “Keep your Fork … the best is yet to come”.

The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye. He knew that this would be one of the last times that he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of Heaven than he did.

She knew and trusted that the best was yet to come. At the funeral, every one that walked by the woman’s casket saw her wearing a beautiful dress with her favorite Bible held in her left hand and a fork held in her right hand.

Over and over the pastor heard people ask the question, “Why is she holding a fork?” and his smile began to get larger and brighter each time. During his message, the pastor told the people about the conversation that he had with the woman shortly before she died. He explained the fork and what it symbolized to her. The Pastor told everyone how he could not stop thinking about the fork and how he hoped that they would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

So the next time you reach for your fork, let it remind you, oh so gently, that the best is yet to come ……..

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.Robert Louis Stevenson
Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Hope doesn’t come from calculating whether the good news is winning out over the bad. It’s simply a choice to take action.Anna Lappe
I believe that (everyone) is the keeper of a dream – and by tuning into one another’s secret hopes, we can become better friends, better partners, and better parents. Oprah Winfrey

How to Have Hope in a Broken World

  1. Notice kindness in others. With all the negativity in the media, it can be hard to believe people are actually good. But they are. Look around and identify the kind acts you see. Pay attention to the doors being held, the favors being done, the smiles being shared. Make a list if you can. In every day, there is kindness, goodness — you just have to look for it. Choosing to notice the good will make you feel hopeful and will remind you that, in spite of the darkness, there are little glimpses of light.
  1. Be grateful for this life. Cliché as it is, the old “every day is a gift” saying rings with truth. Tragedies in the world remind us of life’s uncertainty. We really don’t know what day will be our last. Now, before you let that idea bum you out, make the choice to see it in a positive light. The unexpectedness of life should not cause you fear; instead, it should inspire you to be thankful for every day, every moment, you’re alive. Each moment is an opportunity and to realize that is to have hope.
  1. Avoid negative-only news. Most news sources focus primarily on the negative things that have happened over a course of a day. It’s important to stay well-informed, but it’s just as important not to let the news suck all the hope from your life. If you must watch/read the news, supplement it with some positive news (like Happy News or Daily Good). Seeking out positive news stories and focusing on them will encourage a sense of hopefulness, a belief that goodness really is out there (even if we have to look a little harder for it).
  1. Be enthusiastic about life. The more you love about your life, the more hope you’ll have. If you enjoy what you do, who you’re around, and how you feel about yourself, you’ll be much more hopeful when faced with negativity. Make an effort to be enthusiastic about life. Spend time doing what you love. Spend time with people you love. The things that matter most to you are the things that will help you embrace hope when times are tough; these are the things that will inspire you to believe in the good.
To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent – that is to triumph over old age.Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Men are afraid to rock the boat in which they hope to drift safely through life’s currents, when, actually, the boat is stuck on a sandbar. They would be better off to rock the boat and try to shake it loose.Thomas Szasz
Human pain does not let go of its grip at one point in time. Rather, it works its way out of our consciousness over time. There is a season of sadness. A season of anger. A season of tranquility. A season of hope.Robert Veninga

What is Hope?

This can all turn out for the best

Trouble is brewing, but you are convinced it can all turn out well. You believe with all the depths of your being that things will get better. You have hope; and you are doing things to improve your future. You are fearing the worst but expecting the best. Hope is the antidote to the hopelessness of despair. Hope moves us forward.


  1. The possibility that things will get better,
  2. The chance for improvement,
  3. A positive stance on the future
  4. Anticipation of a future desirable event or outcome,
  5. Pleased about a prospective desirable event

Hope fuels the human spirit. It drives us forward, encourages us to overcome obstacles, and keeps us focused on achieving worthwhile goals. It encourages imagination and risk-taking and can lead to positive transformations.

False Hope

There is controversy over the concept of “false hope”. If you hold out hope for something that is truly impossible, or so unlikely it is eventually impossible, you may be having false hope. Is this good or bad? To make the distinction, determine if your behavior is beneficial or not. As an example, deciding to spend your food money to play the lottery in the hope you will win is almost certainly destructive and regrettable. The chances of winning the lottery are vanishingly small, and the need for food is certain. Here a “false hope” leads to a destructive behavior and is harmful. Another example is the decision of a high school student to abandon academic studies to concentrate on playing professional sports or becoming a rock musician. The odds against success are astronomical, yet the loss is certain. This is almost certainly a bad bet. However, if you have been diagnosed with terminal cancer, hope can give you peace of mind, relieve stress, and provide you the positive outlook and motivation that can lead to helpful actions including eating well, getting the recommended exercise, taking medications as instructed, seeking out the best care for yourself, peace of mind, and spending time in meaningful ways.

Most “con games” are based on creating false hopes. This includes most forms of gambling, sweepstakes, get rich quick schemes, risky investments, quack cures, promised miracles, hoaxes, urban legends, mysticism, faith exploitations, and other scams. Many of these are manipulations that exploit distortions in our thinking or other vulnerabilities. Examine the evidence, consider a variety of viewpoints, calculate the odds rationally, and approach such claims with extreme skepticism.

Maintain hope when there is some possibility of a good outcome. Take constructive and responsible action to improve your chances. Do not abdicate your responsibility for caution, skepticism, and action by submitting to unfounded optimism. Hope is helpful when it results in positive action, it is unhelpful if it inhibits action. Plan for the worst as you anticipate the best.

Hope is tested when what if meets what is. Accurate assessment, sound judgment, constructive action, and personal responsibility mark the difference between real hope and false hope.

In any case, strive for an accurate optimism.

The Stockdale Paradox

Admiral James Stockdale was the highest ranking US military officer in the Hoa Loa prisoner-of-war camp during the Vietnam war. He was brutally tortured more than twenty times over the eight years he was imprisoned from 1965 to 1973. During that time he dedicated himself to helping the other soldiers survive the ordeal. Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great, asked Stockdale how he endured, and who in the camp failed to endure. In answering he said: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you cannot afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever that may be.”

Jim Collins summarizes this wisdom as the “Stockdale Paradox”: Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.

Hope and reality combine for a real hope.

Real Hope

Real hope combines a hopeful outlook with a firm grip on reality. This is the substance of commitment.

Each of us approaches a new problem, task, challenge, or opportunity with a particular outlook. This outlook can range from a very positive, hopeful spirit to a very negative, or hopeless stance.

As we get more involved in meeting the challenge we learn more about the real problems facing us. Our grasp on reality begins to change. As more and more information becomes available, we become better informed and create a more accurate understanding and assessment of the situation. Our viewpoint evolves as we assimilate new information. Alternatively, we may choose to remain uninformed and ignorant, or deny, dismiss, or distort important information.

How we hope……

  1. No Hope—Helpless—Give up now, don’t even try, I already know there is nothing I can do to help. Why bother? I won’t even waste my time trying; it is futile. This is the region of learned helplessness and the defeatist attitude. The outlook is doubtful and reality is unknown, distorted, denied, or dismissed. Cynics, naysayers, and other gloomy and disheartened people lurk here.
  1. False Hope—Wishful—I have an unshakable faith that all will turn out well. I don’t need to know anything more to know it will all turn out fine in the end. The outlook is hopeful, but the reality is unknown, distorted, denied, or dismissed. This is often a dangerous position of inaction or ineffective action and little information. It believes hope is a strategy. Visionary dreamers along with Pollyanna’s and the crackpots of la-la land are all here.
  1. Lost Hope—Surrendered—The more I learn, the more hopeless this becomes. I cannot overcome the obstacles; further effort is futile. I am discouraged and choose not to go on. I’ll save myself for another day. Life is too short to push on a rope. I’ll admit defeat and move on to the next challenge, sadder but wiser. The outlook is doubtful, but the reality is accurate. Quitters share this space along with shrewd gamblers, entrepreneurs, and others who decided to retreat now so they can contribute another day.
  2. Real Hope—Committed—I fully understand the difficulties I face and I know I can prevail in the end. I am encouraged and will never give up, despite the difficult challenges that lie ahead. The outlook is hopeful and the reality is accurate. The aspirations of what if meld with the harsh reality of what is to create an enduring result. Tenacious, courageous, persistent, and inspiring people are achieving results here.

We are encouraged when our outlook improves as we learn more about the situation. We are discouraged when our outlook becomes less hopeful as we learn more about the situation. We have dashed hopes when events take us from real hope to lost hope.

Where There is Hope There is a Way

Hope is what keeps us going on day to day. Hope tomorrow will be sunny. Hope tomorrow will bring you that check in the mail. Hope tomorrow that phone call you have been waiting for comes. Hope the girl you have been seeing likes you as much as you like her.

We keep hoping and we keep trying. That is what fuels us to move forward. That possibility that what we are hoping for is right around the corner. We just need to be patient for one more day.

The early years of my marriage, my wife would tell me all the time, ” something great is going to happen very soon”. We had very little, a tiny little house and 7 children and she seemed to have a line to God, so I had faith that she “knew” something. Years went by, she continued to say this but never did we see this wondrous surprise. After time this declaration began to make a knot form in the pit of my stomach. But I now realize my wife, God love her, is a dreamer, a talker more than an actual doer.

Hope is sort of like gambling. If you don’t win sometime then you lose hope. But with hope you have to have faith. Faith that what you are hoping for will happen. No matter what it is. Faith is what keeps you hoping even if what you are hoping for never happens. Or keeps you pushing that new idea, or project, or job, or service project, or whatever over and over again until you find someone that will agree with your dream.

I realize now that in the early years of my marriage, we didn’t have much, but at the same time we had so much. We had love, we had happiness, we had fun, we had each other. Whenever we were in need of anything whether it was food, diapers or money for gas… it happened somehow. Great things did happen… they were just in small every day packages that I did not see them for what they were.

Don’t you know things can change
Things will go your way
If you’ll hold on for one more day
Things will go your wayWilson Phillips

Look beyond the present scene, for to dwell on the confusion of the world,  renders us unfit for the revelations of heaven. Relative to eternity…we are not  going to be here much longer, and no one should spend time or thought on  what will soon be left behind.


They say that the eyes are the window to the soul.  When our players come off the field following an opponent’s touchdown in a lopsided contest that we are losing, I always look into our player’s eyes.  I am looking for hope.  Sometimes I see fear and hopelessness.  I bet a lot of people look into the eyes of a young person today and see fear and hopelessness. It is sad and discouraging, but it is our job as adults to help these young people replace that fear and hopelessness with hope. It is our mission to mentor their souls to hope. In order to give them hope, our own “Hope Cup” must be overflowing. Here are some strategies that can help fill us and others with hope:

  1. Lose the “Failure Self-Image”. Discipline your mind to let go of the self-image of a failure… a person who feels, “That’s just who I am” when it comes to (name your challenge). Get rid of the image of a person who isn’t good at something and you’ll lay the foundation for excellence. I am slow. I am fat. I am weak. I’m not good enough (to have the goal). I’m not very smart. That’s not me.
  2. Stop Pointing Fingers Elsewhere. You are not a victim. Take responsibility for your own happiness and stop blaming your problems or failures on circumstances or other people. It wasn’t me, I didn’t do it, they did it, it’s not my fault, it’s not my job, it was too hard, I couldn’t help it.
  3. Eliminate the Doubt – No More “I Can’t”. Self-doubt is responsible for people procrastinating, never setting a goal, and quitting before succeeding. I can’t do it. I can’t change. There’s nothing I can do. I’m going to fail.
  4. Remove Positive Attraction to Unsupportive Tasks, People & Places. The lure of unsupportive people, places, activities (inactivity, too) that keep you from having hope is strong. You must discipline yourself to steer away from these hopeless people, places, and behaviors.  Drugs, alcohol, internet porn, laziness, gluttony, too much TV and or video games.
  5. Remove Negative Feelings about Supportive Tasks, People & Places.  Retrain your mind to enjoy more virtuous hope filled activities. Tell yourself they are good for you and then take the medicine. Studying. Reading. Tests. Doing homework. Writing papers. Working out. Cleaning up after yourself. Serving others.
  6. Rise Above Worry: Stop Focusing On What’s Not Perfect/What Could Go Wrong. Stop focusing on fearful thoughts (worry) concerning all things related to your day. This causes procrastination, nagging, arguments, unhappiness, rage, jealousy, and being obsessive. I can’t stop thinking about ____. I’ll bet that they’re talking about me right now. They’ won’t like this. I’m too skinny/fat. The color is off… I have to start all over because its not right.
  7. Stop Feeling Overwhelmed with the Task at Hand. Stop blowing up the “size” and difficulty of the routine, normal tasks and decisions related to reaching your goal, and to “see, hear and feel” them as manageable. This is going to take forever. I’ve got SO much to do. I don’t have enough time. This is too big a job for me.
  8. Handle Mistakes, Setbacks & Delays with Patience and Confidence. Mistakes/setbacks/delays are often unforeseen and cannot always be planned for. Keep them in perspective. This is when you find out what you are made of. How you respond to adversity will predict your future. I can’t make a mistake or I’m done. It’s over. Shaking all over. Panic. Can’t think. Sweating, Fear.

Hope is the food of the soul. A soul without hope will wither and perish. There are a lot of souls walking around us every day that are starving to death for a lack of hope.  Just like the body dies from a lack of nourishment, so a soul is dies when its source of life is gone.  That source is hope.  Hopes life giving work in the soul is to give it a reason to get out of bed in the morning, to go to work or school, to serve others, to live, and to lay down your life for others.


The “Miracle on Ice” is the popular nickname for the men’s ice hockey game in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. in which a team of amateur and collegiate players from the United States beat the long dominant and heavily favored Soviet Union on February 22, 1980, in Lake Placid, New York. The United States team entered the competition seeded seventh in the final round of 12 teams that qualified for the Lake Placid Olympics. The team was composed of collegiate players and amateurs, some of whom had signed contracts to play in the National Hockey League. The Soviet Union was the favored team. A year earlier the Soviet national team routed the NHL all-stars 6-0 to win the Challenge Cup. On February 9, the two Olympic teams met for an exhibition match in order to practice for the upcoming competition. The Soviet Union won 10-3. In Olympic group play, the United States surprised many observers with their physical, cohesive play, starting with a 2-2 tie against Sweden and followed by a stunning 7-3 victory against a strong team from Czechoslovakia. The U.S. team finished with four wins and one draw to advance to the medal round. In the other group, the Soviets stormed through their opposition undefeated, demolishing their opponents – Japan 16-0, the Netherlands 17-4. and Poland 8-1 – and easily qualified for the next round. Sweden and Finland also qualified for the medal round. Can you imagine preparing to play a team that previously beat you 10-3 and shut out a team of NHL all-stars 6-0? During the game the Soviet team had 39 shots on goal in the game while the Americans had only 16. It was tied 2-2 at the end of the first period. 3-2 Soviet Union at the end of the second and the USA made it 4-3 with 10 minutes left to play. They held on for the victory. They held on for a miracle.  The United States went on to win the gold medal by beating Finland 4-2 in their final game .