A Habit of Hope

A Habit of Hope

by Joan Wester Anderson
Liturgical Year: Advent

Have you ever noticed that the holidays bring out the worst in our worrying? Several years ago I went through a dark period of illness and distress. As soon as one difficulty passed, another took its place. By the beginning of Advent I had fallen into a fretful habit of “What if-ing.” “What if the new medication doesn’t work?” “What if I have to cancel that work project?” “What if I still feel like this on Christmas—how will I get the dinner done, the house cleaned? . . .”

“Look,” my husband said one day, “I know it’s hard to have hope sometimes. But living in the future steals today. Can’t you decide not to start sentences with ‘What if’?”

As an Advent offering, maybe I could.

“The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who are searching for his love” (Lamentations 3:25). As days passed and I practiced tossing What-if’s out of my head whenever they intruded, I was surprised at how often I wasted perfectly good hours by worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet—and might never. I realized that when my own store of hope was used up, there always seemed to be someone around (maybe an earth angel?) who could show me the rainbow hidden from my view. Although I endured miserable moments and it took discipline not to return to the old pattern, eventually I stopped focusing on the fearful future and decided to enjoy just this one hour. (The right medication helped, too.)

Today I look back upon that period with astonishment, for not one of my worries ever came to pass. A waste of energy, yes, but also a lesson. As St. Paul reminds us, “Hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance” (Romans 8:25). Each Advent, as I wait for the Child who brought us the hope that never fades, I give thanks.

Joan Wester Anderson 

Joan Wester Anderson has been a freelance writer and public speaker for almost thirty years.

See More

Books by Joan Wester Anderson

Angels, Miracles, and Heaven on Earth

The Best of Joan Wester Anderon’s True Stories of Divine Help

A collection of stories from Joan Wester Anderson featuring the most popular and beloved stories from her previous books

Shop Now

An Angel to Watch Over Me

True Stories of Children’s Encounters with Angels

A collection of more than 30 stories of children’s experiences with celestial beings--from a boy whose angel helps him conquer his fear of thunderstorms to a girl who is miraculously rescued from her burning house.

Shop Now

Angelic Tails

True Stories of Heavenly Canine Companions

Angelic Tails is a collection of true stories that encourage readers to reconsider their view of how God works in and through our world.

Shop Now

Where Miracles Happen

True Stories of Heavenly Encounters

Where Miracles Happen is collection of 45 miraculous stories, from angelic encounters to physical healing to divine guidance. These true tales of heavenly help are guaranteed to inspire.

Shop Now

Angels and Wonders

True Stories of Heaven on Earth

Angels and Wonders recounts nearly 40 stories about angels. The stories in this book reveal that angels accompany humans on their daily journeys and influence their lives.

Shop Now

Guardian Angels

True Stories of Answered Prayers

Inspiring stories of answered prayer that deepen faith and remind us that we are never alone.

Shop Now

The Power of Miracles

True Stories of God’s Presence

Best-selling author Joan Wester Anderson offers stories of mysterious rescues, celestial visions, and many other signs and wonders.

Shop Now

In the Arms of Angels

True Stories of Heavenly Guardians

New York Times best-selling author Joan Wester Anderson offers us her latest collection of true-life accounts of guardian angels and heavenly intervention.

Shop Now

Where Angels Walk (25th Anniversary Edition)

True Stories of Heavenly Visitors

True stories of ordinary people encountering God's angels in their daily life.

Shop Now