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Hope is often misunderstood. Hope, as the longing for better days which delay coming, for the promissed blessings which do not materialize in this life, for the strength to cope with our challenges which very often doesn't cut it, our idealized expections of hope sometimes leave us feeling hopeless. I hadn't seen her in several months. I heard of her husband's terminal illness and ultimate death. I heard she had gone back to work. I signed a card of condolence and meant to speak with her next time I saw her. The news of her attempted suicide shook me to the core. How could the vibrant, beautiful and happy woman I knew have come to the conclusion that taking her own life was preferable to the life she was living with her present challenges? It was Joseph Addison who said, "Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for." She lost the love of her life. Childless, she had only her job to occupy her days, and down the line she must have lost hope. Luckily, she survived, but how many more are there within our reach who carry burdens so heavy, feel so alone, and have lost all hope for better things to come who may not be so lucky?

What can we do for others? For starters, we could care more. We could show more compassion and not judge. Many of us see mental disorders like depression as a weakness which can be cured only by positive thinking. The last thing our depressed hopeless feeling friends need is another pep talk putting the blame on them! Let us be more empathetic even when we do not understand. We could listen to their pain. We could encircle them in our arms and show that we care. We could encourage them to seek advice and treatment from reputable professionals. We could be an example of light and strength in their lives by sharing with them something about our past challenges and how the dawn broke at the end of the darkest night for us, and will do for them. We could become the shoulder they can rest their weary heads on, the stone where they can step up, and the light brightening their path in the darkness. What if it is us? We can reach out and ask for help. We can remember that hope is a gift we can give one another. We can hope for calmer waters while fighting the storms of life. Above all, we can strive to look up and put our hope in He who have the power to heal, support, strengthen, and aid us in our darkest hours. We can hope for angels to come to our rescue!

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