“Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
This beautiful sentiment, as you probably know, comes from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:13, in this case the New Living translation.
In a world where much is uncertain, so much is taken for granted, and many of the old courtesies such as “yes sir” and “no ma’am” have faded, I take comfort in the notion that three timeless virtues will last forever. In fact, if I got to choose the three virtues myself, I would have chosen precisely these.
Faith—belief in things unseen. This one is challenging sometimes, but I have had so many great examples in my life. The faith in God of my parents was inspirational. Their faith in each other through more than 50 years of marriage never eroded; if anything, it grew into its most beautiful fulfillment in the end. Their faith in the goodness of their children and grandchildren, even when so often we did not deserve it, is the kind of faith I try, and sometimes struggle, to have in others.
Hope—expectation in hard times that good times will come again, or belief in good times that we will persevere even when times get tough again. I have had little to sustain me except hope these past five years when too many of the people I loved most in this world have transitioned into the next life. Why did they leave me here without them, I wondered, from mother and father, to second mother, to a young nephew who made his exit far too soon? In my darkest moment, a counselor told me, while I would never stop missing them, there would one day come a time when I thought of them without sorrow as my only emotion, a time when I would remember them with the joy they inspired. That has happened, so I suppose hope has been fulfilled.
Love—a feeling without explanation and often without reason, when we simply know another person is just as essential to us as we are essential to ourselves. I found the great love of my life when I was 29 years old. I will celebrate my 46th birthday this year. We still have faith and hope in each other, so I guess love is the place where all of the virtues collide and coexist. I say “collide” because sometimes love is not easy, but it is without exception worth the effort.
It seems to me if only these three things last forever, they are more than sufficient to sustain us. Many of us have faith that we might one day be reunited with those we love. We have hope that this faith will be fulfilled, and we have love—whether in present, in reverie, or in the expectation it is still to come—as our solace in the moments when faith and hope are hard to come by.
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