” … hope, as Chesterson said, is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.”    Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird

I’m not sure “cheerful” is the word I would have chosen in the thought above. Perhaps “gracious’ or “grace-filled” or “dignified” would be better words. I think of lives or situations that are so desperate that any form of “cheer” would be almost impossible. But maybe I need to expand my thinking on the word “cheerful.”

I need to do some growing in the area of being cheerful in the middle of hard places.  I think we can all find within us the capability of inner joy, kindness, respect, and patience in the face of what we think of as desperate circumstances. In the beginning of my midlife divorce I admit I sometimes felt a desperation… a desperate sadness… a desperate loneliness … a desperate longing for my old life back.

But even early in the process, on some rare occasions, I managed to get through the day more-or-less gracefully. The more I did small good things for myself or for others, the more my hope and even cheer increased little by little, day by day, smile by smile. Then, finally, the desperation was eventually replaced by a brand new, deeper hope, faith, joy and eventually a strong, robust peace.

There is amazing power in developing the ability to see beyond the pain. When we do that, we undoubtedly see hope for the future and experience a new understanding that life can (and undoubtedly will) be filled again with more than enough good cheer.

“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”
Romans 15:13 (The Message)