When times are hard and the world seems to frown upon us, it’s easy to be strongly tempted to indulge in despair. Financial, professional, and family difficulties often have an unfortunate tendency to manifest themselves at the same time. Life sometimes feels like a constant battle in which obstacles keep accumulating, going beyond the limits of what we can bear. While we feel societal pressure to be at the top of our game, comfortable in our skin, good at our work, and happy in our love life, we see how fragile our life balance is, and sometimes it threatens to crumble. How can we find hope and trust in life again?
The example of St. Thérèse
St. Thérèse of Lisieux would have a lot to say today about that. Afflicted by despair, her healing was achieved through her identification with the Holy Child of the manger, on the night of Christmas 1886. It was from this Child-God, fragile and weak, that she received an unsuspected strength, restoring her desire to live.
She thus discovered that accepting her weakness was the first step towards hope and the joy of living. Suffering can become the gateway to the grace of God. It makes us cling to the promise of a better future by connecting with the One who is always guiding us towards greater life, with more love and more light.
Christian mystics are privileged witnesses to this. They know that by looking at ourselves through the eyes of Jesus, the One who still believes in us, we can rediscover light and deep joy. Giving thanks to God even in the midst of suffering, surrendering to Him and trusting Him at all times, is key to getting out of despair.
(Note that prolonged and serious depression is a treatable mental illness, so in addition to prayer and spiritual reflection, it’s important to see a mental health professional.)
Click here to see a slideshow of inspiring Bible verses on the power of hope:
How St. Therese dealt with loneliness as a child
Calm your anxious mind with these Bible verses