Some philosophers believe hope is literally the basis of human existence. Hope for the future is thought by many to be the fire that fuels our souls. As Christians, we believe Jesus Christ redeemed us, providing our hope for all eternity.
Life isn’t always a smooth journey. And at our most difficult times, our abilities to survive and thrive through struggle often relate directly to our abilities to keep hope alive. Think of hope as the pilot light in the furnace of the soul: pilot light goes out, so does life.
Hope in My Own Life
In my new book, From Darkness To Sight, I talk about the most difficult journeys of my life. None compares to surviving the Cultural Revolution in China as a young boy:
The Cultural Revolution in China had closed all universities, and my hopes for the future were mere survival, let alone a college education. Avoiding hard labor camps had seemed like my only chance for survival. And then, a ray of hope:
For ten years, the national college entrance exam [in China] had been shelved. For an entire decade, students had been denied any higher education, including me. With Mao gone and the Cultural Revolution finally over, China’s leaders realized how tragic this mistake was. Deng Xiaoping made the decision to resume university admissions testing. All the universities that had remained shuttered during the Cultural Revolution would be back in business.
But even in the light of this new hope, new challenges became apparent:
After two years of no schooling, catching up on all the senior-high material would be terribly difficult. I could start the tenth grade and proceed through high school as usual, taking the college entrance exam three years later. “No, Ming, you need to jump into the twelfth grade right away,” said my dad, “since only the twelfth-grade graduating class will be allowed to take the college admissions exam.” “He’s right,” said my mom. “You’ll have to catch up on those years of missed school between now and the college entrance exam.” “But the exam is in two months! How can I possibly do that? And even if I get into the twelfth grade, what’s my chance of getting into college then?”
Hope drove me to survive and thrive despite the overwhelming sense of despair permeating China in my youth. Hope that my own initiative and perseverance would create solutions kept me going and, ultimately, worked.
How has hope brought you through a tough time? Who or what inspired that hope?