Online dictionaries define hope as the feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen, or feeling that events will turn out for the best.
Hope is something to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence. It is an ethereal quality that enables us to keep going in the direst of circumstances. We keep moving forward with optimism because hope allows us to envisage a better future or a good outcome.
Never Give up Hope
In the hustle and bustle of the twenty first century, hope often gives way to despair. Not because we no longer have reason to hope, but because we are so preoccupied and busy with affairs of this world that we do not give hope the chance to blossom.
Actually God has supplied us with an unending supply of hope. And when we begin to feel the pangs of hopelessness, we need to remember that God gave us every reason to rely on Him and to hope for His forgiveness and His mercy.
We should expect things to turn out for the best and we can look forward to tomorrow with confidence. God has promised us that following His guidance will lead us to the best outcome.
It is easy to forget one of the most essential things pertaining to hope and that is that God, the creator of human kind, understands that at various times in our lives, we will feel like giving into despair.
And to encourage us to look forward with hope, He reminds us consistently that we should never ever despair of His mercy, kindness and forgiveness.
The Quran and the traditions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad abound with references to how much God wants to be Merciful and how much He wants to forgive us.
What Makes us Lose Hope?
One of the reasons believers feel anxious and despairing is due to the fact that they have sinned. Sinning makes us feel bad, we are often ashamed and disappointed in ourselves, and when we feel like that over and over, it can easily become hopelessness.
People feel terrible when they think that God will not forgive them or is angry with them. It is dark and heavy feeling, and it is also one of Satan’s most useful weapons. Satan uses our despair to push us further away from God.
When a person thinks that they will not be forgiven, they may respond by turning away from God. That would be a grave mistake because turning towards God is the one thing that can restore hope.
Almighty God says:
I treat my slave according to his expectations from Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in My heart; if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a better and nobler gathering (i.e. of angels), if he comes closer to Me by one span, I go towards him a cubit’s length, if he comes toward Me by a cubit’s length, I go towards him an arm’s length, and if he walks towards Me, I run unto him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The companions of Prophet Muhammad were not angels, they were human beings, they made mistakes and they committed sins. They also had a different understanding of the nature of sin and how it is connected to forgiveness.
The early Muslims understood that God has what we would nowadays call an open door policy. There is no sin big enough to make a person despair of God’s mercy and forgiveness. No matter how big the sin, God’s mercy is bigger.
Even after all the crimes Pharaoh committed against God and the Children of Israel, God still commanded Moses to speak kindly to him just in case he would ask for forgiveness.
Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, verily, he has transgressed all bounds in disbelief and disobedience and behaved as an arrogant tyrant. And speak to him kindly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear God. (Quran 20:43)
Whatever sin causes your despair, it does not compare to the sins of Pharaoh. As human beings have the ability to make a choice. We can choose despair or we can do as God advises and choose hope.
Say, My servants, you who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions. He is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. (Quran 39:53)
…Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve. (Quran 12:87)
Stress and anxiety seem to be the plagues of this new century. Depression, fatigue and sorrow all try to strip hope away from us.
Hopelessness is becoming more common, isn’t it? Hopelessness is not a new trait, it has been with humankind from the beginning; and from the beginning, God and His Messengers have urged us to be hopeful. They have given us guidance and encouragement.
Whoever asks often for forgiveness, God will provide for him a way out of each concern he has, and will solve all his troubles, and will provide him with livelihood from sources that were not known to him. (Ahmad)
God has told us on numerous occasions to call on Him for help; and Prophet Muhammad reminds us that relief is no more than a supplication away.
Make supplication to God Almighty and know that He will answer your prayer. (At-Tirmidhi)
He even gave his companions advice on how to dispel feelings of anxiety and despair. He told them to recite this supplication:
Oh God, I seek your protection from anxiety, sorrow, inability, laziness, cowardice, stinginess, overpowering debt and subjugation by fellow man. (Al-Bukhari Abu Dawud and others)
This certainly seems to cover all the stresses of our daily lives, just as it covered the stresses that afflicted Prophet Muhammad’s companions. Our burdens today are no greater than burdens in the past, and the cure is still the same. Turn to God, beg His forgiveness and hope for relief.
…After a difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief. (Quran 65:7)
So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily with every difficulty there is relief. (Quran 94:5)
The life of a human being can be difficult.
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. (Quran 2:155)
The life of this world is filled with tests, trials, and tribulations but these must be faced with patience and hope. Hope that God will guide you to the best outcome. Hope will guide you through the darkness, but despair will only lengthen the journey.
God is merciful, what we see around us every day is only one percent of His mercy. Every time a mother holds her child, or a nurse wipes the brow of a suffering patient, or rain falls on the parched earth in a drought stricken area… it is God’s mercy alive in the world.
The other 99% remains with God for Him to distribute on the Day of Judgment. That is certainly a reason for hope.
God created mercy in one hundred parts and sent down to earth only one part. Because of this one part, there is mutual love amongst creation, so much so that an animal will lift up its hoof from its young one, fearing that it might harm it. God has reserved the remaining ninety-nine parts of this mercy to favor His believing servants on the Day of Judgment. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Sometimes stress and anxiety can turn into the type of hopelessness we nowadays call depression. If this is the case for you, or someone you know, it is essential that you seek medical advice and help. This too is a mercy from God.