The Spiritual Practice of Hope

We experience hope as a feeling, a spiritual energy within us. This energy supports our desire for good things to happen. 

Hope is a form of optimism, but beyond that hope can be a powerful, active spiritual practice when embraced as a centerpiece of a faith-filled life.

In His relationships, Jesus made hope an active practice. Take the lessons of the Beatitudes. Jesus casts the hope of God’s love over struggling people by calling them not unfortunate, but blessed by God. Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the suffering. As the Son of God, Jesus had ability to “see.” But as fully human, Jesus had to draw on courage and faith to practice hope, finding the good in every encounter.

How encouraging to know, too, that the spiritual practice of hope can be learned. Practices of any kind are just that, acted out repeatedly as we get better and enjoy the fruits of its labors. “Doing hope” involves looking within to identify what is hoped for. We do this every day that we sit with our prayers, gratitude, and concerns in discernment of our desires. We do this very much in the face of our lives’ realities.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

(Peter 5:10)

Then, we embrace those hopes by taking steps to bring them to fruition. An attitude check is important here: One is patience, an ability to tolerate others or delays—a willingness to let events unfold in their own time. Whenever patience is practiced, we know that it is something we “do,” an active and positive state of being. We must work hard to overcome the irritated or otherwise frustrated state.

Another attitude to foster is courage, an attitude of trust and confidence when facing the unknown. Also have persistence, the determination to keep going no matter what happens. We practice hope when we can say all will be well, and we mean it.

Active hope opens the path for mindfulness about the beauty of life, even in the most challenging times. To embrace life as fundamentally good fuels the practice of hope, with the realization that we have a deep well of inner strength to face challenging times. Active hope also provides a readiness to engage. Over time, our well-oiled “hope practice” becomes a powerful facet of the spiritual path to a life well-lived, in close union with God.