Hope never disappoints. Optimism disappoints, but hope does not.
We have such need in these times that can appear dark, in which we sometimes feel disoriented by the evil and violence that surround us, by the distress of so many of our brothers and sisters. We need hope. We feel disoriented and even rather discouraged because we are powerless and it seems this darkness will never end.
We must not let hope abandon us, because God, with his love, walks with us. “I hope, because God is beside me”: we can all say this. Each one of us can say: “I hope, I have hope, because God walks with me.” He walks and he holds my hand. God does not leave us to ourselves. The Lord Jesus has conquered evil and has opened the path of life for us.
Let us allow the Lord to teach us what it means to hope.
In the second part of his book, Isaiah addresses the people with his message of comfort:
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned. … ‘A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken’”(40:1–2, 3–5).
God the Father comforts by raising up comforters, whom he asks to encourage the people, his children, by proclaiming that the tribulation has ended, affliction has ended, and sins have been forgiven. This is what heals the afflicted and fearful heart. This is why the prophet Isaiah asks them to prepare the way of the Lord, to be ready to receive his gifts and his salvation.
For the people, comfort begins with the opportunity to walk on God’s path, a new path, made straight and passable, a way prepared in the desert, so as to make it possible to cross it and return to the homeland.
Never lose hope, continue to believe, always, in spite of everything.
The prophet addresses the people who are living the tragedy of the exile in Babylon, and now they hear that they may return to their land, across a path made smooth and wide, without valleys and mountains that make the journey arduous, a level path across the desert. Thus, preparing that path means preparing a way of salvation and liberation from every obstacle and hindrance.
The exile was a fraught moment in the history of Israel, when the people had lost everything. The people had lost their homeland, freedom, dignity and even trust in God. They felt abandoned and hopeless. However, there is the prophet’s appeal which reopens the heart to faith.
The desert is a place in which it is difficult to live, but precisely there, one can now walk in order to return not only to the homeland, but return to God, and return to hoping and smiling. When we are in darkness, in difficulty, we do not smile, and it is precisely hope which teaches us to smile in order to find the path that leads to God.
Life is often a desert; it is difficult to walk in life, but if we trust in God it can become beautiful and wide as a highway. Never lose hope, continue to believe, always, in spite of everything.
When we are before a child, although we have many problems and many difficulties, a smile comes to us from within, because we see hope in front of us: a child is hope. And in this way, we must be able to discern in life the way of hope which leads us to find God, God who became a child for us.
He will make us smile; he will give us everything.