The Christian tradition has always understood hope as a Theological Virtue. Virtues are habits or dispositions that influence the person to do good, and when these habits are theological, it means they are given to us by God. So, the church defines hope as the virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promise (CCC 1817). In a simple way, we can say that Hope is the mechanism through which we trust that God will lead us to happiness.
I personally understood the meaning of this concept clearly, but did I apply it to my life? looking back at the way I used the term Hope in my daily communications makes me realize that, my understanding of this virtue was more theoretical (in the head) than practical (real). I would use it very frequently and in different ways, for example, I would start all my e mails to people by saying “I hope all is well” or I tell my friends “I hope you like this or that”, or many other ways where the term itself has no significant meaning, but just a nice figure of speech.
I think all of that changed with the appearance of COVID- 19. As much harm as this virus brought upon the world, it also brought number of good things. For me personally, it helped me deepen my understanding and appreciation for the virtue of Hope. Hope became something near and dear to me, something concrete that I seek daily. It is only through hope I can trust that my infected relative will be healed again, it is only through hope I trust that my return to our places of worship is inevitable, it is only through hope I trust that our financial stability will be restored soon, and so on…… Hope is no longer an abstract thing. It is real, it manifests my trust in God.
Trusting in God is a key component to our spiritual life. Hope is another term for trusting in God and his will for us. Whatever the circumstance of my life, hope puts me at peace with it. The fact that God asked me to surrender everything to Him and wait for Him to act in my life is a comforting reality. That does not make hope this superstitious belief or a fairytale that accomplishes all the goals on my wish list. To the contrary, Hope is a conscious decision to trust that God has the final word to every situation in my life, and whether the outcome is positive or negative, I know that it is the best-case scenario for me. It is this firm conviction that led the author of the book of Hebrew to say, “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy” (Heb 10:23).
Karam Bahnam is a co-founder of the Eastern Catholic Evangelization Center with his Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and working on his Master’s Degree in Theology