Saint Paul calls hope “an anchor of the soul” (Heb 6:19). Just as an anchor keeps a ship firmly in place preventing it from being tossed or smashed against the rocks by the pressure of the current or winds, so hope is the virtue that provides stability, peace, and even joy in the midst of trials, difficulties and confusions. Hope is rooted and established in Who God is, not in the possibilities or outcomes of the situations themselves. Christian hope is different from optimism. Optimism tries to minimize the darkness, to see the glass half-full rather than half-empty, hope fully acknowledges the darkness and the evil, but rests in God’s presence and His faithful promises. It is precisely in times of darkness that we can become aware of God’s presence as a burst of Divine Light overwhelming us with a heavenly joy that surpasses any earthly peace or happiness we seek.
Hope, then, does not grant any assurance of a painless life, but rather acknowledges the presence of Him Who accompanies us in the midst of their pain – a presence that brings light, peace and joy. Hope’s fulfillment is in possession, which will only be completely realized in the Kingdom of God. There, we will no longer need the virtue of hope, for we shall possess all that we hoped for. But the seed of that possession is already implanted in us through our baptism, and it is nourished and finds its growth through prayer, spiritual reading, the Sacraments, and worship – all of which aim to arouse His presence within our hearts.
Hope is not only forward looking. As we come to experience in greater depths and degrees the presence of God and the joy this brings, we not only grow in anticipation of our future possession, but we also look back to our past with greater awareness of God’s presence in those moments that up to now have only brought us regret and shame. As such, hope is a powerful purification of our memories.
– All That I Have Is Yours: 100 Meditations with St. Pope Kyrillos VI on the Spiritual Life (Spirituality Series)