Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Infinite Power of Hope

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Infinite Power of Hope, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

I remember when I learned something significant in my first calculus course. While reviewing some basics—two points define a line; three non-collinear points define a plane—the professor pointed out that the latter (three points defining a plane) is why milking stools have three legs. I recall that a generational divide became apparent when some students didn't know what a milking stool was. Now I not only know what a milking stool is, but I know why it is stable.

The three words, faith, hope, and charity, just roll off the tongue; they are used so often together that they often seem a sort of package deal. President Uchtdorf reminded me of my calculus memory when he observed that "hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity." With the stable milking stool now in mind, he continues: "These three stabilize our lives regardless of the rough or uneven surfaces we might encounter at the time."

While the focus of his talk was, indeed, on hope, I really got stuck on the relationships between the three, as symbolized by the three-legged stool. I know my life can benefit from some more spiritual stability, akin to the trusty milking stool.

Besides rolling off the tongue, in what other ways do faith, hope, and charity go together? Focusing on hope, President Uchtdorf taught that "hope is critical to both faith and charity."

How is hope critical to faith? "When disobedience, disappointment, and procrastination erode faith, hope is there to uphold our faith." It sounds like hope is our faith insurance policy. This makes sense when we consider that "hope is ... the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promise to us." Even if disobedience diminishes our faith, hope can provide the trust that increases faith, which grows hope, and so on.

How is hope critical to charity? "When frustration and impatience challenge charity, hope braces our resolve and urges us to care for our fellowmen even without expectation of reward." If we truly "hope in Jesus the Christ, in the goodness of God, in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, [and] in the knowledge that prayers are heard and answered," then we will be more willing to be merciful, compassionate, and, of course, charitable to others.

In summary: "The brighter our hope, the greater our faith. The stronger our hope, the purer our charity."

President Uchtdorf reminded me of the stability of a milking stool and encouraged me to have more spiritual stability by hoping for a better tomorrow through Christ, and hoping in "Jesus the Christ, in the goodness of God, in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, [and] in the knowledge that prayers are heard and answered."

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