I recently had the pleasure of attending the wedding of my friend’s daughter. It was just lovely; the bride was glowing, her parent’s were teary, the groom was puffed up with pride, and, as usual, the little kids tried to steal the show by shedding suit jackets, ties, shoes and belts in the middle of the ceremony at centre stage.

I have known the bride since she was seven and it was wonderful to see her all ‘grown up’ at twenty four and taking the big step of a marriage commitment.

The atmosphere at the wedding and subsequent reception was one of optimism. With both families overjoyed at the union, there were no negative undertones or conflicts. It was refreshing to be present at an occasion where the main ingredient of the day was pure joy and hope for the future.

The day caused me to reflect on hope and what it means to the human psyche. The emotion of hope is a significant one to us as people, and one that is often underestimated.

The dictionary defines hope as: –noun: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; –verb (used with object): to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

Basically, we need hope. Without it, why would we strive for anything in the future? Hope keeps us going. If we do not have hope, we would not plan, dream and ultimately, act. If we had no hope of ‘happily ever after’, would anyone make a commitment to another person for a lifetime? If we had no hope, would we put money aside and save for that overseas trip? Would we make business investments and plans? It’s in the sportsperson who trains every day, in the hope of being good enough to make the Olympic team. It is in the persistence of a suitor with his eye firmly on the hope of attracting the attention of the woman of his dreams.

It seems to me, that hope is one of the very essentials we need for survival. Social workers will tell you that it is the teenagers bereft of hope who often partake in the most self-destructive behaviour. It’s the adults who have had hopes and dreams stripped away who slide into depression or even alcoholism. It’s the societies whose governments have abused the people’s goodwill and hope for the future that are thrown into civil unrest.

When people around us, or ourselves, are dealing with the various difficulties and challenges life can bring, we need to be mindful of the power of hope. Our resilience in apparently ‘hopeless’ situations is astounding, as is our ability to thoughtlessly take another’s hope away. Sometimes, hope is all we have to cling to when our world has been shaken to the core.

Hope, by it’s very definition is optimism for the future. Helping sustain another’s hope is one of the best gifts we can give. Standing shoulder to shoulder with someone as they look disaster in the eye, spurring them on and being a voice of hope when theirs drops to a whisper, is an important privilege bestowed on those who choose to take it on. We can do much for those we love by simply not allowing them to lose hope. Let’s give hope where we can and look toward a bright and vibrant future, no matter how dim and dull the present may be.

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