The word 'hope' to those who are broken-hearted is start-ling, to them it is poison. If you speak of hope to the broken-hearted they say, "Do not speak of it, I do not wish to hear of it!". The state of the broken-hearted is worse than death; they are without ambition, without hope, without life. The one who is broken-hearted is dead while he is alive; the breath is still there, but his heart is dead, life has gone with the hope that was lost. He may not be old in years, but he has become old.
To him who is heartless hope is a ridiculous word. The heartless, he whose heart is incapable of feeling, will say, "Hope? What is it? See what you can do, and do it. Do not dream". This is the material person who can see no further than the material possibilities.
In the life of Christ we see that enemies, difficulties and helplessness were all around - and confidence in the truth of the message gave hope to carry it through. If there had not been hope, the thought "I will bring the message", what material possibility was there of spreading the message? This whole manifestation has hope as its underlying motive. Nature first hoped to produce the world and then produced it.
In the Orient people have the habit of depending upon kismet, fate, and this is a source of weakness. If an astrologer tells a Brahmin, "After so many years such and such a calamity will come upon you", the Brahmin does not even make an effort to fight against misfortune; he awaits it and accepts it. If a man is told, "In such a year you will become very ill", he does not even try to avoid the illness. They do not consider that hope can avert misfortune and can turn aside even the influence of the planets. Where no possibility of attaining the object is given, a strong hope can attain it.
Without going to the mystics this can be seen in the history of kings. Mahmud Ghaznavi was a slave. What possibility was there for him to become a king? With only hope he started from Turkistan and founded a kingdom in Afghanistan. Of Timur is told that once he was lying asleep in the jungle. He was going through such a hard time that he did not even have a place to lie down, hardly any clothes, nothing. A dervish happened to pass that way and saw Timur lying in the hot sun where not even an animal would lie. He went nearer and saw about this man some signs of greatness. He also saw a sign of bad luck, and that sign was that Timur, while asleep, was lying with his legs crossed. He saw that this man himself was the hindrance to his undertakings. The dervish had a stick and hit him so hard that the bone of his leg broke. Timur woke up feeling a great pain. He said, "O dervish, this is very unkind! I already have such hard luck, and you break my bone". The dervish replied, "My son, your bad luck is gone. You will be emperor". There seemed to be no possibility for it; Timur had no army, no clothes even, and now his bone was broken. But after great striving and after many years he became the emperor Timur Leng.
All works that have been accomplished have been accomplished by hope. Without hope the engineer could not have built a bridge across the Thames; he hoped, and then he built it. Without hope the Suez Canal, a thing that seemed impossible, could not have been cut.
One may ask, "How long shall I hope? I have hoped once and I have been disappointed; I have hoped a second time and I have been disappointed; I have hoped a third time and I have been disappointed". I will say "Hope until the last breath. While there is breath in the body, hope".
A person may lose hope in his profession or trade. For instance he may have gone to a singer to take singing lessons for one or two months, or for one or two years, and then he may think, "I am not getting on with this, I should stop singing. I believe I have no voice". Or he may think, "I am not getting on in my business. I cannot make it a success, I should give it up". The ill is not changing of profession or business, but giving up altogether. If the person thinks, "Now I wish to be a poet", and becomes a poet, then he is not hopeless; or if he thinks, "Now I wish to compose", and becomes a composer; or "I should be a teacher", and becomes a teacher, then he is not hopeless.
People say that doctors now have found remedies for so many diseases, but I say that the cause of most illnesses is loss of hope. In the pharmacy there is no such great remedy for all diseases as hope is. Even when the disease is incurable, hope cures it.
The question arises: What hope is right, and what hope is not right? A wise person will never hope for what is impossible. Hoping to be a queen, when there are no means of being a queen, is hoping the impossible. First we must know what is possible - this is wisdom - and then we must hope. The Qur'an speaks of khawf, hope with consideration. This word does not mean fear, as it has sometimes been translated, but consideration, conscientiousness. Hope with the consideration of the purpose for which the manifestation was made, with the consideration of God-that hope is always right. Hope without consideration is wrong.
Why with consideration? Because we must not hope for what is wrong, for what is bad. We must hope with the fear of God before us. The hope must be so strong that, if to-day we are penniless, we must think that there is every possibility that tomorrow we may be a millionaire. If to-day our own relations do not know us, we must think that there is every possibility that to-morrow we may be known to the whole world.