Finding Hope: Cultivating God's Gift of a Hopeful Spirit

Download Discussion Guide

This practical guide gives you the encouragement and practices you need to cultivate a hopeful spirit. Helps you recognize—or develop—your own personal images of hope and create ways to see the evidences of hope in your life any time despair seeps in.

Marcia Ford
Foreword by Andrea Jaeger

Paperback
8 x 8, 176 pp | 978-1-59473-211-9
List Price: $16.99     Your Price: $8.50

(not to be combined with other discounts)

Quantity in Cart: None

eBooks available for:
kindle nook ibooks

Large Print edition available from ReadHowYouWant.com

Discover the freedom and joy that come when you open your heart to Hope

This practical guide gives you the inspiration, encouragement and practices you need to cultivate a hopeful spirit and thus live a more fulfilling and joyful life. Writing from personal experience and her broad knowledge of many faith traditions, Marcia Ford helps you recognize—or develop—your own personal images of hope and create a place where you can go to see the many evidences of hope in your life any time despair seeps in. She provides important learning tools that you can apply to everyday life experiences, inspiring personal stories of hope from the famous and not-so-famous and realistic exercises for creating the overall balance and peace you look to achieve in living your life connected to God. Drawing from Christian and Hebrew scripture and the wisdom of spiritual teachers from all traditions, Ford helps you realize that we all can receive a gift of hope and grace from the Divine—we just need to be open to accept it.

Topics include:

  • Dealing with Disappointment
  • It’s Not Wishful Thinking
  • Impossible Situations
  • Recovering from Loss
  • Hope amid Suffering
  • Overcoming Hopelessness
  • Real and Imagined Threats
  • The Heart of Healing
  • Cultivating a Hopeful Spirit
  • Freedom’s Fascinating Power
  • And more

“Poignantly and beautifully written, your spirits will soar as you rediscover the power of hope—in your life and in the lives of those you love. Breaks new ground in understanding the theological and psychological aspects of hope. Highly recommended.”

Robert L. Veninga, author, A Gift of Hope: How We Survive Our Tragedies

“Even the most discouraged, troubled and hopeless of us can find a sweet consolation that is as credible as a sunrise and as steady as the hand of God. Guides us through the land of troubling thoughts and parched emotions, brings us safely out into the meadow of a hopeful spirit.”

Phyllis Tickle, compiler, The Divine Hours

“Marcia Ford is one of those rare writers who can make you laugh about a subject that can make you cry. After reading this book you may never view hope—and even its troubling antithesis, despair—the same way again.”

A. J. Kiesling, author, Jaded: Hope for Believers Who Have Given Up on Church But Not on God

“A lovely book that reaches deep into the well of hope, longing for life’s beauty.”

Karyn D. Kedar, author, The Bridge to Forgiveness: Stories and Prayers for Finding God and Restoring Wholeness

“Outlines the practical steps for getting us back in tune with this extraordinarily powerful force in our lives. In the end, Ford finds in hope a kind of —unified theory— for our entire relationship to God and our fellow human beings.”

John Tintera, book editor, Explorefaith.org

“Reminds us of why nothing can take away the one sure hope we have: our faith in God, and [God’s] unfailing love for us. In a seemingly hopeless world—full of violence, war and unmitigated suffering—we desperately need this book.”

Cindy Crosby, author, By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer; editor, Ancient Christian Devotional

 

 

What inspired you to write a book on hope at this time? In other words, why this book, why now?

Actually, the idea for the book originated with Maura Shaw, my editor at SkyLight Paths. She had no way of knowing that I had been thinking a great deal about the concept of hope for some time, particularly about why some people seem to have an abundance of hope while others have so little, regardless of their life circumstances. I found it intriguing that you could meet two people who had suffered similar tragedies and discover that one was hope-filled and the other hope-challenged. That and other aspects of hope were already on my mind when Maura contacted me about doing a book on hope along the lines of my previous book for SkyLight Paths, The Sacred Art of Forgiveness: Forgiving Ourselves and Others through God's Grace. The timing proved to be perfect, because, as I mention throughout Finding Hope, my own sense of hopefulness was tested as never before during the course of writing the book.

Hope seems to be in short supply these days. Why do you think that is?

Well, I’m not so sure it is in short supply; though some people may express the opinion that “there’s no hope,” when you dig a little deeper you find that they have more hope than they themselves realize. Still, there’s little question that the world situation can appear to be hopeless. War, famine, genocide, and unimaginable atrocities characterize everyday life in some parts of the world, and in our technologically advanced environment, we learn about these things as they happen. As I was writing this, North Korea announced it had conducted a nuclear test, replacing school shootings as the headline of the day. Many consider that to be a more serious threat to world peace than the ongoing tension in the Middle East.

When the Amish school tragedy occurred in the same week that saw fatal shootings in two other schools across the country, a friend asked, “Wheres the good in this world?” I reminded her that evil, not good, makes the headlines. The day when evil truly triumphs will be the day when “good” makes the front-page news, when we open the paper to find a headline that reads, “No School Shootings in U.S. This Week.” Thats when well have a significant reason to question whether there is any hope for the world.

Hospice care is only available when the patient's condition is hopelesswhen the patient is terminally ill and expected to die within months. As you are a hospice volunteer, how do you reconcile that with your views on hope?

Very easily. You just described the patient’s condition as “hopeless,” but it’s only hopeless if you’re expecting a particular outcome, such as a miraculous healing that never comes. Eliminate the expectation of that outcome, and you can still have hopehope that the patient and his or her loved ones will experience a precious and peaceful time together (even when the patient is unresponsive), as one person’s life on earth transitions to the life to come.

Before I began working with hospice, I had an experience that forever cured me of the fear of death. Now, having witnessed the last days of my hospice patients, I am more convinced than ever that we have reason to hope for the life to come, because I have sensed the mingling of this life with the afterlife each time a hospice patient passes on.

You identify unexpected places throughout the world where hope existsfor example, among refugees and survivors of the Bosnian war, migrant workers in the U.S., and persecuted Christians in several Mexican villages, among others. Where have you personally experienced hope in unexpected places?

I’ve been surprised at the abundance of hope I’ve found among cancer patients and those who work with them. As a caregiver for a cervical cancer patient, I had prepared myself for the worst. I expected the chemo and radiation centers to be utterly depressing and devoid of hope. Was I ever wrong! While there were some patients, of course, who were understandably discouraged, I met many who expressed at least some degree of optimism and a great deal of determination to fight the disease with every ounce of energy they had left. You can’t fight like that without hope. Hope keeps you going; hopelessness means you’ve given up.

And then theres Andrea Jaeger and her Little Star Foundation. Her life overflows with hope. I cannot imagine dedicating my life to young cancer victims, and yet she and her foundation have personally ministered to more than five hundred children with cancer, offering them everything from a fun-filled week in the Rockies to a college scholarship. Andrea, who wrote the Foreword to Finding Hope, could have easily rested on her laurels as a former tennis pro, the first teenage phenom in the history of womens professional tennis. But she didnt. She took her earnings and opened a ranch in Aspen for those young cancer patients, and the work grew from there. Thats hope in action.

Your hope clearly lies in your belief in God. What do you say to, or about, people who struggle with a belief in God but who still have hope?

I think it’s a matter of semantics. People who say their hope is not in God but in the human spirit, or whatever, fail to recognize or think through where the human spirit comes from. All but diehard atheists realize there’s “something more” out there; some people won’t use the word “God,” while others believe God is not actively involved in our lives. No matter what, that “something more” is where our hope lies.

My personal view is that we are made in the image of God and that Gods Spirit resides within us. Without getting into some very deep and murky theological waters, I say that Gods Spirit can so permeate our lives that its virtually indistinguishable from the human spirit. Call it what you may, our hope still lies in the Spirit of God.

Tell us about your writing habitswhere you get your ideas, how you transform them into the written word, where you do your writing, that kind of thing. And do you have a musea "voice" in your ear that makes itself heard just when you need it?

I’ll take the second part first. My muse is a composite of all the governmental writers under the former Soviet regime in Russia who were forced to produce a certain word count each day or risk losing a host of “privileges”like housing and food and other essentials. Writer’s block was a luxury they could not afford, and in honor of them, I’ve decided that I cannot afford it either. As soon as I begin to feel stuck, I give myself permission to write whatever comes to my mind, even if it’s junk. Soon enough, I get back in the flow and delete the junk.

No true writer ever lacks ideas. Theyre everywhere; we just need to sort them out and decide which ones were passionate about. Once I have a workable idea for a book, I research like crazy, ten times more than I need to. All of that research gives me not only tangible material but also a lot to think about. Then I go on to something else, another type of writing entirely (I also write book reviews, columns, and news articles, in addition to editing and ghostwriting books and teaching writing techniques at conferences). While my attention is actively diverted to that “something else,” my subconscious is processing the results of my research. When I return to the book I’ve researched, the writing usually flows. That incubation period really pays off; I’ve written some of my books in record time, which I attribute to the combination of research, incubation, and my experience with tight deadlines as a journalist.

And I write everywhere. I have an official office in my home, but I’m just as likely to use my laptop elsewhere in the houseor in a hotel room, at a retreat center, at a coffee house, or even at the local library. I dont take kindly to routines; I’ve never figured out whether I gravitated toward journalism because I hated routines, or whether newspaper work forever ruined me for a 9-to-5 work environment. I’ll often keep writing all night long and sleep during the day. Thankfully, my family has learned to accommodate my lack of a consistent schedule.

What inspired you to write a book on hope at this time? In other words, why this book, why now?

Actually, the idea for the book originated with Maura Shaw, my editor at SkyLight Paths. She had no way of knowing that I had been thinking a great deal about the concept of hope for some time, particularly about why some people seem to have an abundance of hope while others have so little, regardless of their life circumstances. I found it intriguing that you could meet two people who had suffered similar tragedies and discover that one was hope-filled and the other hope-challenged. That and other aspects of hope were already on my mind when Maura contacted me about doing a book on hope along the lines of my previous book for SkyLight Paths, The Sacred Art of Forgiveness: Forgiving Ourselves and Others through God's Grace. The timing proved to be perfect, because, as I mention throughout Finding Hope, my own sense of hopefulness was tested as never before during the course of writing the book.

Hope seems to be in short supply these days. Why do you think that is?

Well, I’m not so sure it is in short supply; though some people may express the opinion that “there’s no hope,” when you dig a little deeper you find that they have more hope than they themselves realize. Still, there’s little question that the world situation can appear to be hopeless. War, famine, genocide, and unimaginable atrocities characterize everyday life in some parts of the world, and in our technologically advanced environment, we learn about these things as they happen. As I was writing this, North Korea announced it had conducted a nuclear test, replacing school shootings as the headline of the day. Many consider that to be a more serious threat to world peace than the ongoing tension in the Middle East.

When the Amish school tragedy occurred in the same week that saw fatal shootings in two other schools across the country, a friend asked, “Wheres the good in this world?” I reminded her that evil, not good, makes the headlines. The day when evil truly triumphs will be the day when “good” makes the front-page news, when we open the paper to find a headline that reads, “No School Shootings in U.S. This Week.” Thats when well have a significant reason to question whether there is any hope for the world.

Hospice care is only available when the patient's condition is hopelesswhen the patient is terminally ill and expected to die within months. As you are a hospice volunteer, how do you reconcile that with your views on hope?

Very easily. You just described the patient’s condition as “hopeless,” but it’s only hopeless if you’re expecting a particular outcome, such as a miraculous healing that never comes. Eliminate the expectation of that outcome, and you can still have hopehope that the patient and his or her loved ones will experience a precious and peaceful time together (even when the patient is unresponsive), as one person’s life on earth transitions to the life to come.

Before I began working with hospice, I had an experience that forever cured me of the fear of death. Now, having witnessed the last days of my hospice patients, I am more convinced than ever that we have reason to hope for the life to come, because I have sensed the mingling of this life with the afterlife each time a hospice patient passes on.

You identify unexpected places throughout the world where hope existsfor example, among refugees and survivors of the Bosnian war, migrant workers in the U.S., and persecuted Christians in several Mexican villages, among others. Where have you personally experienced hope in unexpected places?

I’ve been surprised at the abundance of hope I’ve found among cancer patients and those who work with them. As a caregiver for a cervical cancer patient, I had prepared myself for the worst. I expected the chemo and radiation centers to be utterly depressing and devoid of hope. Was I ever wrong! While there were some patients, of course, who were understandably discouraged, I met many who expressed at least some degree of optimism and a great deal of determination to fight the disease with every ounce of energy they had left. You can’t fight like that without hope. Hope keeps you going; hopelessness means you’ve given up.

And then theres Andrea Jaeger and her Little Star Foundation. Her life overflows with hope. I cannot imagine dedicating my life to young cancer victims, and yet she and her foundation have personally ministered to more than five hundred children with cancer, offering them everything from a fun-filled week in the Rockies to a college scholarship. Andrea, who wrote the Foreword to Finding Hope, could have easily rested on her laurels as a former tennis pro, the first teenage phenom in the history of womens professional tennis. But she didnt. She took her earnings and opened a ranch in Aspen for those young cancer patients, and the work grew from there. Thats hope in action.

Your hope clearly lies in your belief in God. What do you say to, or about, people who struggle with a belief in God but who still have hope?

I think it’s a matter of semantics. People who say their hope is not in God but in the human spirit, or whatever, fail to recognize or think through where the human spirit comes from. All but diehard atheists realize there’s “something more” out there; some people won’t use the word “God,” while others believe God is not actively involved in our lives. No matter what, that “something more” is where our hope lies.

My personal view is that we are made in the image of God and that Gods Spirit resides within us. Without getting into some very deep and murky theological waters, I say that Gods Spirit can so permeate our lives that its virtually indistinguishable from the human spirit. Call it what you may, our hope still lies in the Spirit of God.

Tell us about your writing habitswhere you get your ideas, how you transform them into the written word, where you do your writing, that kind of thing. And do you have a musea "voice" in your ear that makes itself heard just when you need it?

I’ll take the second part first. My muse is a composite of all the governmental writers under the former Soviet regime in Russia who were forced to produce a certain word count each day or risk losing a host of “privileges”like housing and food and other essentials. Writer’s block was a luxury they could not afford, and in honor of them, I’ve decided that I cannot afford it either. As soon as I begin to feel stuck, I give myself permission to write whatever comes to my mind, even if it’s junk. Soon enough, I get back in the flow and delete the junk.

No true writer ever lacks ideas. Theyre everywhere; we just need to sort them out and decide which ones were passionate about. Once I have a workable idea for a book, I research like crazy, ten times more than I need to. All of that research gives me not only tangible material but also a lot to think about. Then I go on to something else, another type of writing entirely (I also write book reviews, columns, and news articles, in addition to editing and ghostwriting books and teaching writing techniques at conferences). While my attention is actively diverted to that “something else,” my subconscious is processing the results of my research. When I return to the book I’ve researched, the writing usually flows. That incubation period really pays off; I’ve written some of my books in record time, which I attribute to the combination of research, incubation, and my experience with tight deadlines as a journalist.

And I write everywhere. I have an official office in my home, but I’m just as likely to use my laptop elsewhere in the houseor in a hotel room, at a retreat center, at a coffee house, or even at the local library. I dont take kindly to routines; I’ve never figured out whether I gravitated toward journalism because I hated routines, or whether newspaper work forever ruined me for a 9-to-5 work environment. I’ll often keep writing all night long and sleep during the day. Thankfully, my family has learned to accommodate my lack of a consistent schedule.

 

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

Grieving with Your Whole Heart: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for  Finding Comfort, Hope and Healing After Loss

Grieving with Your Whole Heart: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for Finding Comfort, Hope and Healing After Loss

Created by the Editors at SkyLight Paths

The Losses of Our Lives: The Sacred Gifts of Renewal in Everyday Loss

The Losses of Our Lives: The Sacred Gifts of Renewal in Everyday Loss

Dr. Nancy Copeland-Payton

Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists about Suffering

Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists about Suffering

Gordon Peerman

Spiritually Healthy Divorce: Navigating Disruption with Insight & Hope

Spiritually Healthy Divorce: Navigating Disruption with Insight & Hope

Carolyne Call

A Spirituality for Brokenness: Discovering Your Deepest Self in Difficult Times

A Spirituality for Brokenness: Discovering Your Deepest Self in Difficult Times

Terry Taylor

The Forgiveness Handbook: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for the Journey to Freedom, Healing and Peace

The Forgiveness Handbook: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for the Journey to Freedom, Healing and Peace

Created by the Editors at SkyLight Paths
Introduction by The Rev. Canon Marianne Wells Borg

Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice

Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice

Rami Shapiro
Foreword by Joan Borysenko, PhD

Also available in
Inspiration

close