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During my youth I arose early each morning to milk cows. I enjoyed hearing the gentle lowing of the cows in the cold morning air as they eagerly and patiently awaited their turn to be milked. Later in my life I taught my young bride Colleen to milk a cow with me. We milked the cow out of doors and not within the comfort of a barn, and we used a three-legged stool to sit on while milking the cow because all three legs of the stool could come into contact with the often bumpy, rough, and uneven surface of the earth. The three-legged stool was the simplest, best, and most stable platform for us to sit on as we milked the gentle cow.
Like the three-legged stool we used to milk the cow, hope is one leg of the three-legged stool of faith, hope, and charity. Hope anchors us in our ability to move forward rightly in life and to navigate life’s bumpy, rough, and uneven terrain. Hope keeps us from drifting aimlessly and from being tossed too and fro by perilous waves, or from running ourselves aground upon life’s rocky shoals. Hope helps to secure us fast to faith and to charity.
A perfect brightness of hope embodies happy feelings and the anticipation of good things to come. Hope secures sufficient faith to energize the body, the mind, and the spirit to fruitful action. Hope has within it the power to help us realize great happiness and to do much good. The scriptures themselves were written that we might have hope. And hope in Christ's atonement and resurrection is the foundation to our faith and essential to all righteous living.
What is the opposite to this three-legged stool that secures us? Doubt (opposite of faith), despair (opposite of hope), and inaction to do good continually (opposite of charity that leads us to do good continually). These counterfeits lead to the loss of heaven’s blessings in our lives. Despair drains us of vitality and joy, it kills ambition, ages and deteriorates our health, and deadens our hearts. It is toxic waste to the soul and pollutes all that is good within us. Hope, on the other hand illuminates our present circumstances in a manner to enable us to go forward in faith and power. Hope enables us to endure all things and abide in trust that the Lord’s promises to us are secure as we press forward in faith.
How can our hope increase? Hope is born through faith in God. Our faith in God increases and our hope becomes bright as we come to better understand God’s perfect characteristics and attributes. For example, hope increases as we recognize that God has the power to keep His promises to us; and that He is God today and will be God from everlasting to everlasting. Hope increases as we recognize His goodness and mercy, in whom there is no variableness or changing. We hope more brightly as we believe He is a God of truth and does not and cannot lie. Our hope brightens because He is no respecter of persons and as we voluntarily act in accordance with His will we are assured His promises of eternal progression. Similarly, we hope because of our faith in His perfect love for us that overlays all His other perfect characteristics and because He is omniscient and does not make mistakes when He commands us. Our hope brightens as we recognize that His judgement is perfect and sound and that He is perfectly just as He exercises judgment over us. Finally, hope increases as we remember that He never asks anything of us that we cannot do, nor that will not result in our personal progression and greater light and happiness. Herein is our basis for hope and hope is critical to our progress and relationship with God. Proverbs teaches us that hope deferred maketh the heart sick (Prov. 13:12). Therefore, let us secure and not defer hope.
The fruits of hope are confidence, optimism, enthusiasm and sufficient patience to secure the fruits of faith. We should therefore strive daily for firm, sure, unwavering, and an active and lively hope. It is the fuel which enables us to wax confident in prayer before the Lord, knowing that our prayers will be answered and that as we press forward in faith we will receive all things necessary to do the Lord’s will in our lives.
We must cultivate and nurture hope as we would lovingly tend and care for a garden. We best nurture hope by doing what is right and good continually. By so doing we are filled with the Holy Ghost and enjoy fruits of righteousness in our lives, which enables us to attain even greater hope. We can come to abound in hope, even when circumstances may seem to contradict hope. Even as odds are stacked against hope we must persist and choose hope by pressing forward steadfastly and continually, abounding in good works.
Hope that is centered in truth fuels faithful action sufficient to bear the fruits of faith. Hope that is centered in error has no power to bear the fruits of faithful action. For example, hope for vibrant health without the faith to live the laws of health, has no power in it to secure vitality. By comparison hope for vibrant health that is nurtured through obedience to the laws of health, secures the vitality hoped for. Procrastination to act in faith towards our desired outcomes causes our faith to grow dormant and leads to the lessening of hope. Bright hope requires that we secure faith through action.
There are three things to hope for that secure great faith and charity in our lives:
As we seek to qualify to receive the Second Comforter, to be redeemed, and to be made a partaker of the heavenly gift, let us remember that meekness and lowliness of heart before God endows us with even greater faith, hope, and charity and qualify us insomuch that the doctrines of the priesthood begin to distill upon our souls as fast as we are willing and able to receive them. As we secure a perfect brightness of hope in Christ, our hearts also become drawn out toward the welfare of others and as we love our neighbors more perfectly, they too turn more fully to Christ and heaven’s blessings. We help to build God's kingdom as we serve and turn others to Christ.
There are many wonderful things to hope for in life such as a good education, work that you enjoy and that enables you to contribute to others, or the hope to develop a God-given talent more fully. We should never minimize any hope that leads us to do good, for all such hope is of God. We should honor the good desires and hopes that are within us through intelligent action that enables us to realize our hopes. Our hope is anchored more fully as we ask God for whatsoever things we stand in need of, both spiritual and temporal to enable us to realize our hopes; and as we return grateful loving thanks unto God for whatsoever things we receive from Him. Gratitude is a pure expression of love.
We anchor our hope further as we remain humble, submissive, gentle, easy to be entreated, and as we endure in patience and with long-suffering, and as we become temperate in all things and as we are diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times.
As our love of God and all men increases and we consecrate our all as we go about doing good continually, we become sanctified and holy and our garments are made spotless. We qualify that we too may be brought to sit down with Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having our garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out. We become God’s heirs and receive eternal life. And as we so walk this life in faith, hope, and charity we secure a promise that God’s peace will rest upon us now, and upon our houses and lands, and upon our flocks and herds, and upon all that we possess, and upon our women and our children.
How important then is hope? Hope is the fuel of industry, productivity, health, and of action. Without hope, faith becomes dormant and we cease to do good, to become sanctified, and to progress along the path of redemption. Therefore, we must hope, or we cannot receive an inheritance that would otherwise be prepared for us among the mansions of our Father. And, as we become filled with faith, hope, and charity toward God and all men we qualify to enter into the rest of the Lord and to be made partakers of the heavenly gift, and we qualify ourselves more fully to help establish Zion today.
How do we know if our progress is right and if our hope is true or false? It is as easy to tell that our hope and direction is true as it is to judge the daylight from the dark. Everything that inviteth to do good and to persuade us to believe in Christ is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore we may know with a perfect knowledge that it is of God. And as we lay hold upon every good thing we become children of Christ and qualify for Zion’s blessings today.
What then may we hope for with a perfect brightness of hope?
With these hopes let us therefore awake and arise from the dust as sons and daughters of Zion to be no more confounded. Let us come unto Christ and be perfected in him, and deny self of all ungodliness, and love God with all our might, mind, and strength that his grace may be sufficient that we may become perfected and sanctified in him and become holy and without spot.
Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Let us then go forward and not backward. Let us have courage and go on, on to the victory! Let our hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free. Those we love will rise again.
Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!
It is a fact that those who live most peacefully and happily live longer lives and suffer from less disease than those who are chronically stressed and who suffer regularly from spiritual disquietude. Perfect hope leads to perfect peace and happiness. As we anchor our lives to a perfect brightness of hope and upon the three-legged stool of faith, hope and charity, we come naturally to enjoy rich peace and happiness. And, as we exercise faith, we overcome its opposite -- even fear, and as we increase our hope we overcome its opposite -- even despair, and that as we love God and neighbor rightly and go about doing good continually, we overcome love's opposite -- unfruitful action and the lack of doing good continually.
Therefore, to enjoy our greatest potentials for physical health and longevity, we must obtain our greatest spiritual potential for peace and happiness. We do this most simply as we come unto the Lord each day with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and ask Him for the strength and direction needed to forsake all darkness within us (sins, errors, and weaknesses) that we may enter more fully into His perfect light and love. As we do His perfect will today our hope may be perfect that His will for us today is customized by Him to enable our greatest spiritual and physical potentials today.
I so appreciate you addressing this fundamental topic in depth. There truly is so much more to health and vitality than what we eat. The body and spirit are connected and one affects the other. Thank you so much for your inspiration and articulation of the "big picture" viewpoint. I am regaining my health from a stage 4 metastatic cancer by following Dr. Max Gerson's therapy and your recipes and insights will come in handy as I resume my maintenance diet in 8 months.