“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” – Jacob Riis
There is probably nothing more important in our struggle for self-improvement than persistence and hope. Persistence produces the results, while hope pushes us to take another step. These two go hand in hand just the way faith and works do.
If I hope to reach a goal but give up trying whenever I face an obstacle, I will never reach any goal worth achieving. If I work hard at something every day but don’t have any hope that I will see results, I will soon get discouraged and abandon the effort.
What is hope? Persistence is easy to define: Just keep working at it. But what about hope? You can’t just tell someone to have hope. “Hope” is an often misused term or misunderstood concept. People tend to use it the same way they would use the word “wish”. It actually has a different meaning. As a noun it means, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had.” As a verb it means, “To look forward to with desire and confidence. To believe, desire, or trust.” Sounds a lot deeper than just wishing something would happen. Hope is actually linked to the words “confidence”, “desire”, and “trust”.
How do we develop greater hope? Our hope will increase as our confidence increases. Our confidence increases when we see the positive results of our persistent actions. If I practice shooting free throws every day and can consistently make 10 in a row, I will become confident that I can make a free throw in a basketball game. If I never practice free throws at all, do I have the right to hope for a game-winning free throw? Not really. Without the persistent effort, I am just wishing to that I could somehow chuck the ball up there and by some miracle, make the shot. The difference between having hope and wishing comes from the persistent effort leading up to it.
Persistence comes from not giving up. When there is a goal you are working towards, you have to learn to persist even when it seems like you aren’t making progress. There is always a tipping point. That point where it seems like everything you have been doing is in vain, but just a little more effort tips the scales in your favor and results start to come faster and faster. Most people give up before the tipping point. That is why we must have hope. Hope is what tells us that a little more effort will get us there. It keeps us going. Persistence and hope. You can’t really have one without the other. Develop them both and you will be successful at anything you endeavor.
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