Kids and the virtue of hope go together, don’t they? In an ideal world, our kids imagine themselves tackling and conquering problems of the world as they rush headlong into their futures with brimming confidence. Yes? Not quite. Maybe past generations did more to instill the virtue of hope into our younger people. Maybe we need to be a bit more deliberate.

I know a kid who has three ulcers because he worries about his mom’s health so much. Kids worry too much – about grades, about what they look like, about who they are and what others think. They’ve got worry down pat.

Do they have hope down pat? Dr. Nancy Gill didn’t think so. She set out to learn from a lot of kids by listening, by being with, by playing with, and by talking to kids. She gave them opportunities to express themselves and she convinced them that she was interested in what they had to say. This, Dr. Gill believes, is the beginning of hope in a child – when you convince him that you are interested in what he has to say.

We must convince our kids that God is very interested in what they have to say. How? By having them tell God everything. About themselves. About what they want to do with their lives. About their everyday existence. God cares. We need to tell them that.

And we need to show them that God cares about what they have to say by listening to them ourselves, especially those of us who – like it or not – model God’s love to them: teachers, principals, moms, dads, uncles, aunts, coaches, and mentors.

Be Deliberate: Teach Hope

Surround kids with the definition of hope: a desire accompanied by confident expectation (The American Heritage Dictionary).

Tell them we are hopeful people if we:

  • Expect others to love us
  • Expect others to forgive us
  • Expect ourselves to love and forgive others
  • Expect that we can make a difference in our families, our communities, our world.
  • Expect that God will fulfill God’s will within and through us.
  • Know that God is in control and will bring about what is best for us through any circumstance.

Be Deliberate: Teach Prayers of Hope

Almighty God, You who walk on water and calm raging storms with just a word, instill in us the virtue of hope. Grant us the confident knowledge that You are with us, now and always. Remind us what we can accomplish with You as our guide. May we know the joy that comes from the virtue of hope. Amen.

O Christ, make of me a hope-filled Christian. Amen.

Dear Jesus, may I hope for all good things for myself, for those I love, and even for those who would wish me harm. Amen.

O God, make of me a hopeful and joyful follower of Yours!

Be Deliberate: Teach the Saints of Hope

Don’t forget the saints of hope: St. Jude would not have become the saint of the impossible if he did not have hope to the ultimate degree! His virtue of hope is very healthy indeed.

Not only can St. Anthony find lost objects, but he can help us find our sense of hope if we have lost that! The intercession of this saint is very great and is filled with hope.

Bartimaeus, too, is a man of hope. He asked Jesus to help him see. He approached Jesus with confident expectation.

Don’t forget the Centurion. Remember how impressed Jesus was with this man’s sense of hope. The Centurion did not even need Jesus to come into his house to heal his servant; he believed – he hoped (with confident expectation) – that Jesus would heal her from afar.

Be deliberate. Teach hope. Pray for hope. Instill hope by listening. And perhaps by year’s end, many more kids will have the virtue of hope down pat!