A Great Season for Looking Up with Hope
By Amanda Hudson
Here is an encouraging quote from Pope Francis taken from his address to the International Conference on St. Teresa of Jesus on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her proclamation as a doctor of the Church.
In talking about prayer, the pope said that it “opens us, it allows us to appreciate that God is great, that He is beyond the horizon, that God is good, that He loves us and that history is not getting out of hand.”
With God, he adds, “we are capable of facing any challenge, because in reality His company alone is what our hearts desire and what gives us the fullness and joy from which we were created.”
Evidence abounds of the great value of faith and of hope. Without it, people begin to resemble what brings to mind the biblical description of a crowd that seemed to Jesus as being like “sheep without a shepherd.”
When times are good, and things are easy, and fun distractions are readily available, people who have no — or only a superficial — faith usually can do well enough mentally and emotionally. Throw in all the hardships and sadness of this past year-plus, and it is understandable why so many people have acted on their stress in destructive ways that harm themselves or others.
But God, yet again, is the answer. And Easter is the perfect time to focus on the parts of our faith like the Resurrection of Jesus and our own future rising, and also to really ponder what heaven will be like.
Given our current surroundings, finding that focus might take extra effort on our part.
The state of “languishing” describes where many people find themselves right now. Not depressed exactly, and not falling off the edge, but definitely not thriving or looking forward with hope.
It’s worth the effort to call to mind the beauty of God and His heaven during these times that tempt us toward languishing. There is something beyond all the dilemmas of the here-and-now. What happens each day does matter, of course, but still it is not the final say. There is more — God always is more.
“All things pass away; God never changes,” says St. Teresa. During times of trial and change, remembering our exaulted God can help us avoid becoming overwhelmed or despairing. He is infinitely bigger than the universe — far greater than all that befalls us or others, or countries, or even our entire planet. We can place ourselves before this One who is Love. He can comfort us, and He can assure us of our place in the world and remind us that He’s got us, holding us in His mighty hand. He can give us a higher perspective of the world.
In this time where so much darkness is visible — just watch the news — our Savior and our faith can light our way. A number of Bible passages describe Jesus as light including: “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil” (John 3:19-20). 
Actually there may be several reasons for being stuck in the dark instead of embracing Jesus’ light. For example, His insights may challenge us to step out and do some work for Him, and we don’t feel up to it. Or maybe we have become stuck in feelings of hopelessness as we see more of the darkness and unkindness in so much of society.
That can happen to anyone who has lapsed into languishing. Inertia sets in, and it is hard to rouse up enthusiasm for the glorious, heavenly future that seems so far away.
But languishing, hovering, hunkering down ... none of that has to limit us once we turn to our Lord in prayer. He can help us with energy, with understanding, with courage ... whatever it takes to help us to become more active in His service.
After this long haul that isn’t over yet, most of us probably need a God-sized nudge about now.
Let’s remember that God is greater than history — and be open to His direction and assistance.