A rotating panel of experts from the worlds of philosophy, psychology and religion offer their perspective on the dilemmas that come with living in Southern California.

Today's question: Hope is a precious, life-renewing commodity that helps us when the going gets tough. Hope is essential, but it is also in short supply. Do you have a way to renew hope when you face great obstacles? Where do you look to find hope?

Richard J. Mouw

President, Fuller Theological Seminary

I can't improve on the answer given in the much-sung Christmas carol: "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight." When I think about where to ground my hope, I focus on the baby of Bethlehem. Without Jesus, my view of reality would be in desperate shape. The complexities of our problems are overwhelming, and all of our self-devised remedies fall short as solutions to our basic predicaments. Our only hope is to acknowledge our helplessness and reach out to the Savior whom God has sent.

Laura J. Robinson

Clinical psychologist/parish associate, First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood

Hopelessness is always found in isolation, while hope is found in community. Hope is always a gift we find in the context of relationship. Think of the experience of falling in love, discovering a good friend, or tender reconciliation with someone important to you--all of a sudden the future is changed, there are possibilities for new beginnings, and this produces energizing hope. We can hope again when we experience a quality of being known and loved that opens new worlds to us, and transforms the way we look at our lives and ourselves. We are strengthened and inspired to imagine a better future when we are not alone in the pain of the present.

Ken Fong

Senior pastor, Evergreen Baptist Church, Rosemead

"The Lord delights in those who . . . put their hope in his unfailing love." (Psalm 147:11). Each month as I preside over Communion, I study the faces of those who come forward. This mother is raising three children by herself. This family has a parent with Alzheimer's. This young man is fighting an addiction. This old widow is fighting loneliness. Here they are at the Lord's table, reaching for the symbols of his unfailing love. They are reminded that God's only son gave his all for them without promising them a perfect life or a perfect world. When I see them reaching for the elements, I see them reaching for hope in the same way as I do.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World