There is a verse in the Bible that directly speaks to the importance of hope. Why is so hope so important one may ask? Does having hope really matter? Is there a justification for having hope? According to Scripture there is reasonable explanation for the importance of hope in our lives. Proverbs is a book often referred to as a “book of wisdom,” or a book of “if, then” clauses. Proverbs 13:12 states, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
What is this reference to the tree of life one may ask? In chapter 2 of Genesis, we read that God created the garden of Eden for Adam and Eve and there is a reference to the “tree of life.” The tree of life is described as being full of “the knowledge of good and evil.” Perhaps it could be argued then that having hope is like having knowledge? Regardless, we can see from Genesis 2:9 that the tree of life was in the center of the garden – represented as perhaps the most significant tree in the garden.
So, can one concur that having hope is one of the most important attributes to having a fulfilled life then? If not having hope is contrasted to having a longing fulfilled then it is reasonable to presume that having hope is what God desires for our lives. In cases of suicide, it is usually surmised that an individual has lost all hope and does not see any reason to continue with their lives or any hope of present circumstances ever changing. Hence the explanation of “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” This does not mean a physical literal sick heart but rather it is reference to the emotions of the heart being “sick” or unhealthy. Therefore, having hope restored within a person who has become hopeless is most definitely significant.
For those who work in the mental health field hopelessness can often visually be observed in a person. The appearance of hopelessness can be seen with body posture slumped over, a frown, apathetic or despondent tone of voice, no desire to do activities a person once enjoyed, and no motivation for personal hygiene or typical daily routine activities. Obviously, there are many more which could be listed however, how can therapists help restore a sense of hope with those clients?
It would be remiss to neglect the fact there is often a spiritual component to hopelessness, yet there can also be a chemical imbalance in the brain which can explain feelings of hopelessness. Discussion of a client’s spiritual beliefs can be a helpful avenue to restoring hope within. Having a client see their doctor for a physical examination and elimination of any physical problems is another critical component to exploring explanations for hopelessness. A third suggestion in helping clients restore hope is the importance of having community and connection with other individuals. The Scriptures explain God designed humanity in his likeness and one of those traits includes relationship connection. Covid quarantining certainly point to the ways isolation impacted many with hopelessness and manifested by increased percentages of depression, anxiety and suicide in our population.
In conclusion, the importance of hope is not simply a secular a theory. Hope is a critical component to a positive mindset, healthy spirituality, aiding in physical health and the experience of a fulfilling life.
– Susan Steier – Learn more about working with Susan here!