"...Lest You Sorrow as Others Who Have no Hope..." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

 Venerable Acacius of Sinai, who is mentioned in the Ladder

Venerable Acacius of Sinai, who is mentioned in the Ladder

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

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"...LEST YOU SORROW AS OTHERS WHO HAVE NO HOPE..." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

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Having hope is essential in the life of every human being. We, as Orthodox Christians, believe that the virtue of hope is inseparable from the virtue of faith. Hope, like faith, is in that which is not seen.

Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Romans writes: "For in this hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience" (8:24-25).

"Hope is the assurance of the good outcome of our lives lived by faith in God. Hope is the power of certain conviction that the life built on faith will produce its fruits. Hope is the confidence that, despite all darkness and sin, the Light of the loving forgiveness of God is upon us to do with us and for us what we ourselves cannot do."

Turning to the Old Testament psalms we are taught, "Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and shield. Yes, our hearts are glad in Him because we trust in His Holy Name. Let Thy steadfast love, O Lord be upon us, even as we hope in Thee" (33:20-22).

The Holy Fathers of the Church warn us about the danger of hopelessness. The Evil One who pursues us desires to destroy all hope in us and to drive us to despondency and despair. Hopelessness is one of the major weapons he uses to sever our ties to the Almighty God, to our salvation. Most everything we do is based on hope. If we were to recall our many actions and thoughts, we would be convinced that they were all founded on the hope that the outcome would be good and positive.

Father Roman Braga, of blessed memory, a saintly priest and the spiritual father to our nuns at the Holy Dormition of the Theotokos Women's Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan, spent approximately ten years in a concentration camp under Communism in Romania, and under very harsh conditions. Father mentioned that "prisoners without hope either died or went insane".

Without hope, nothing can ever be accomplished in life. A person of hope has the confidence to face life head-on and overcome all kinds and types of adversity. A person of hope has no fear of any unexpected and violent storms which may come his way but has the necessary faith and courage to confront them and triumph over them. One finds strength in hope but weakness in hopelessness.

The grace of the Holy Spirit energizes the heart and soul of the believer whose hope and trust are in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Man finds healing of soul and body when he trusts in the unconditional love of his Creator. It is a fact of life that one who does not have faith, hope, and love is unable to pray to God. For the unbelieving and despondent person, God does not exist and therefore has absolutely no hope in Him. As a matter of fact, he has, in reality, abandoned Him and instead relies totally on his own powers and human capabilities. Hopelessness brings darkness to the soul, mind, and heart of the individual who has no faith, trust, and hope. Our Lord Jesus is Life and Light and those who believe and hope in Him are engulfed in His Life-giving Light. There is no depression in a person of faith! Light is Life and Darkness is Death.

"Lord, give the command to my soul which You gave in the beginning: "Let there be light!" that I may see the Light of Your Spirit and avoid the darkness of ignorance and of sin; that I may see the way of virtue and of salvation and return to You and away from what is not a real way; that I may see the spiritual life and avoid the death which is brought about by sin. Lord, shine Your spiritual Light abundantly upon me. You are my enlightenment and my Savior, Whom I will respect and fear. You are my Lord to Whom I will sing songs of praise. You are my God, Whose Name I will bless and glorify. You are my Father, Whom I will love. You are my Bridegroom, for Whom I will keep my soul faithful and devoted.

O Lord, the Light of my soul, shine Your enlightenment upon me. As I stand before You in prayer, shine Your Light upon me who am blind of soul, sitting in spiritual darkness and under the influence and power of death. Guide my work on the way of virtue, which brings peace, so that I may worthily approach the wondrous tabernacle, Your Holy Temple, the house of God, and there offer to You, with joyous voice, words of thanksgiving and doxology. For this doxology, when truly coming from the heart, is a way and a means by which I will first be able to turn away from the path of sin, and then directly return to You. You are truly the way that leads to life. Amen. (A Prayer for the Enlightenment of the Soul by St. Augustine)

Finally, it is most important to remember that for the Christian believer that there are no hopeless situations in life; There are only people who have grown hopeless about them. One person said to another, "Suffering colors all of life, doesn't? The other person replied, "Yes it does, but I get to choose the color." Listen to the promises of God given through the holy Prophets and the Righteous of God:

"Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help. Whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Psalm 146:5). Also, "And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who was given to us" (Romans 5:3-5). [References: Orthodox Church in America]

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George