Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, appropriately points out that no one has the capacity to take away our hope. He reached that conclusion after surviving a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. He experienced firsthand the loss of everything anyone would consider precious. As he looked back at that horrific time, he realized that hope sustained him.
Every week I interact with people that are feeling hopeless. Every week I visit with people struggling with the raw realities of life. Traumatic experiences, the loss of a loved one, serious illnesses, and troubled children top the list of those in distress. Relational breakdowns of course are another factor that fuels a sense of hopelessness.
Hopeless people look at the past and it hurts. In some cases, they remember better days. It was a time when their loved one was still with them. There are wonderful memories, but it still hurts to look back at the past. It was a time when their kids were cute and innocent… Still others look at the past and it is nothing more than a constant reminder of some trauma that occurred early on in life.
Those same individuals consider the future and it does not look so bright. The imagination activates the fear mechanism in our brains. We make up all sorts of awful scenarios in our mind as to what could happen in the not so distant future. In other cases, the future is just bleak. There does not seem to be any foreseeable end to the present pain.
But Viktor Frankl says no one can take away our hope! I do think he is right…But I also think all of us need someone to stand beside us and periodically reignite the flame of hope that exists in our hearts. I don’t mean that we need someone to lecture us or give us their definite opinions about our bleak situation. We simply need someone to walk with us during the dark moments of life as well as the times of joy.
If we reach a moment in life when it is too painful to look at the past, and too scary to consider the future, then it might be a good idea to look right beside us. Our best friend is so close that we might actually trip over them. As that person walks beside us, they are ever so subtly lighting the flame of hope. Perhaps they are even doing it unintentionally.
Let me encourage flame lighters among us today. Make that phone call. Send that email. Fire off an encouraging text message. Do the old fashioned thing and send a hand written note. Show up when you want to and show up when you don’t want to as well. It could be that your friend on the receiving end is feeling hopeless today.