The opposite of hope is despair. The dictionary defines despair by saying that despair means “To no longer have any hope or belief that a situation will improve or change” Some synonyms with despair are: discouragement, anguish, unhappiness, misery, defeat.
Think for a moment on a time that you have felt the lowest, the most helpless, and the most hopeless. Personally these feelings have come to me at times that I felt I was failing. Times when I doubted my abilities and suspected that everyone else was doing the same.
I believe that desperation can lead to great things. Just as a diamond is formed from the weight of the world, so too can we be refined at our most difficult and desperate moments.
Here are a few examples that illustrate this principle perfectly:
In one of Fred Astaire's first screen tests, an executive wrote: "Can't sing. Can't act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little." He went on to star in over 35 films and multiple television shows.
After Harrison Ford's first small movie role, an executive took him into his office and told him he'd never succeed in the movie business. Ford's career went on to span six decades, not to mention he played the iconic roles of Han Solo and Indiana Jones
Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting in his life, and the sale was just months before his death.
- Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and didn't read until he was seven. His teacher described him as "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams."
- Babe Ruth had 1,330 strike outs in his career. He continues to remain third on the world record list of homeruns.
Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was "too stupid to learn anything." Edison went on to hold more than 1,000 patents and invented some world-changing devices, like the phonograph, practical electrical lamp, and a movie camera.
- Michael Jordan: Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Do you get it? Failure, a phrase we so strongly fear, if handled correctly, has the ability to turn us into just the opposite of a failure. In a talk by Elder Neal M. Maxwell he stated:
“Hope is realistic anticipation taking the form of determination—a determination not merely to survive but to “endure … well” to the end” He went on to say: ‘a “brightness of hope” produces illuminated individuals...Such hope permits us to “press forward” even when dark clouds oppress. Sometimes in the deepest darkness there is no external light—only an inner light to guide and to reassure”
I know that life can be difficult. I know that sometimes hope seems like such an abstract idea, but I promise you that inside each and every one of us there is the divine nature to succeed. If your doubt continues within you I invite you to try your hardest to muster up the tiniest seed of hope and as Alma says “yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye [may succeed].” Even if you only have a desire to hope. I know that through the Savior our desperation can turn to hope, our fear can turn to faith, and our failures to glories. I know that in the strength of the Lord we can do all things (Alma 26:12).
As an ending quote I live you with wise words from Dr. Seuss (whose first book by the way was rejected 27 times before it was published):
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.You’re on your own, and you know what you know. You’re the guy who’ll decide where to go.”