Faith Column: Hopelandia
The Young and the Hopeless
We have reached the point in every year when people have forgotten about or completely given up on their New Year’s resolutions. The shining hope of becoming a new and more spectacular person fades to a mere glimmer on the horizon. The holidays are over and everyone is back to day-to-day routines and, likely, old habits. You know what they say about old habits and Bruce Willis movies…
When someone told me how unlikely it was for anyone to stick to their resolutions, I thought they were just being pessimistic. Turns out, according to a study conducted in 2007 by British psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88 per cent of all resolutions end in failure. It seems that even the people with the strongest will and best of intentions couldn’t place too much hope in themselves. Apparently, will-power is kind of like a muscle in your body: it can only handle so much weight before it gives out. Working with others can fortify one’s willpower. The same study states that women were 10 per cent more likely to succeed when they had accountability for their resolutions. Surrounding yourself with people who support you and who remind you to have hope in goals is important, and not just for resolutions.
It seems that not too many of my friends are very hopeful these days. I don’t blame them. We aren’t a culture that is conditioned to be hopeful. Most news stories do not focus on things that are uplifting. Sickness, war and violence fit the “news” criteria more than a happy, healthy baby being born. Our advertising companies thrive by convincing the average consumer that they are not good enough. Everyone is too fat, too skinny, too boring, or too anything-else-you-can-think-of. Conveniently, their product or service can fix all of the problems that the consumer currently embodies. Chapters just sent me a very lengthy email on all of the products they can provide to help me meet my fitness goals this 2014! Did you know that Chapters sold watches with pedometers, MP3 players for running and WiiFit games? I sure didn’t! And yet, I’m somehow not convinced that owning any or all of these things would make a difference.
So where do we find hope these days? My bible tells me that “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Heb. 11:1). Now everyone has faith, of course. We have faith that our body will breathe on its own and that the sun will rise tomorrow, but what is the faith that brings hope? Faith in something eternal, faith in unfailing love. Faith in what is life-giving. According to Webster, the definition of hope is “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.” This sounds pretty similar to the verse if you ask me. Paradoxically, that definition itself iterates one of the biggest hurdles to faith: wanting something to be true and thinking that it is true. Wishing that God really exists, but not believing it to be true doesn’t breed hope. It’s not really surprising, then, that our media-saturated culture is missing this vital piece of hope.
Faith of any kind is being kicked out of the mainstream left, right and centre (anyone else follow the Duck Dynasty conflict that lasted all of December?). According to Hal Lindsey, “man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air… but only for one second without hope.” What faith are you putting your hope in?