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Introducing the Theological Virtue of Hope

It's amazing how something small can boost your spirits.  My wife and I have an annual tradition of watching the HGTV dream home presentation on New Year's Day.  Something so small captures a bit of our attention and makes that one day somehow more memorable.

There might be small milestones in a given week that, in and of themselves add a bit of encouragement to your schedule.  A family might gather each Friday for popcorn and a movie.  A single person might visit with friends each Wednesday for breakfast before work.  Ordinary events that can add something helpful to any given week.

INTRODUCING THE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUE OF HOPE

The Christian tradition has long held that three main virtues rule over all the rest- faith, hope and love.  St. Paul, in 1st Corinthians 13:1-13 even gives his thesis on love.  Who can forget Robert DeNiro in The Mission who recites these same verses as a symbol of his changing life.

There's just something about hope which instills positive vibes, even in a community that has been down of late.  I recently met a man who serves on the board of trustees at a prominent high school in Manhattan.  He told me how the board had spent nearly two years on a head of school search process.  Nearing the end, the community can sense that something good- someone good- is about to bring the community to a higher place.

Just this past week, I knew that a sample copy of Margaret Benefiel's new book was in the mail.  When Soul of a Leader arrived in the mail, my waiting (my hope) came to fruition.  Hope's follow through now rests in my own reading of what is sure to become a classic for faith-and-work folks everywhere.

THREE STEPS TOWARD GREATER HOPE

How can you insert more hope into a given week?  First, I would inventory what you currently look forward to each week. Take note and enjoy that simple thing.  For years, I would visit a Dunkin Donuts on my way to work- but only on Tuesdays.  That ordinary, mundane ritual added a little something into my busy schedule.  Whether it's a special meal, a simple habit or a place you like to visit, practice that routine over and over again.  It's adding hope to your spirit and to your schedule.

Second, I think that it's a good idea to pray for an increase in hope. Ask the Lord to cultivate more positive energy in your life and more things to look forward to in your calendar.  Remember what Dale Carnegie said about hope, "Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."

Third and finally, consider each struggle as an opportunity to grow in hope. What's going badly right now that you can let God step into?  What communication gap is causing you to be stressed?  It could be that your stress and struggle is just what God needs to inject hope and optimism.  The next time you are about to blow your stack or utter a cuss word, take a breath and let hope carry the day.  Or at least the moment.

Here's to a hopeful week.

*Photo by Cobalt123

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