I used to think hope was a nice little thing for people who hadn't figured out faith yet.

That was before I realized what hope was even for.

Hope is what you reach for in the dark.

It's what makes you work and struggle for some righteous desire – when you have no idea if the outcome you want so desperately is in the Lord's plan or not.

It's what makes you hold on when you're not even sure where your faith is or what it is doing.

It's what gives you the gift of occasional splashes of joy when you really don't know if the world will ever be okay again or not.

But hope can be frightening, because it leaves us vulnerable.

Sometimes it seems so much better to try to shut down the brilliant gleam of hope because if we never hope then we will never be disappointed. If we don't hope, we will never waste all our time and energy and love and resources on something that might not happen. Hope opens us up to possibly being hurt terribly.

But if we lie down and surrender every time life gets scary, we will never get to the glittering peaks that hope makes us climb.

I have horrible pregnancies. The kind where I feel labor pains (without actual labor) from 12 hours after I get pregnant to the moment I deliver the baby. The kind where I need help to walk across my own living room, and my husband has to wash my hair in the shower for me.

So six years ago we had three beautiful little daughters and the strong prompting came that we needed to have one more child.

My husband and I were terrified. We had a 6 year old, a 4 year old, and a 2 year old. We couldn't imagine how a completely immobile and useless mother could be the mother they needed. Neither of us could wrap our minds around the idea of putting me through that much pain again. It made no sense. There was no way it could be okay.

I can't say that we really had any faith that things would work out. But here's the thing: we really hoped they would. And we had promised to do what the Lord asked, so we took the plunge. Hope gave us strength when we didn't have any strength.

Those 9 months were painful, but they were some of the most joyful of my entire life. So many people came together to help us, and the spirit of the Lord shone brightly in our home. Our three daughters have never been half so well behaved before or since.

And now we have a delightful, sturdy, loving 5-year-old son who is starting kindergarten this year. At last our family feels complete.

The view from the other side of hope is awe-inspiring. Sometimes everything works out so well that you chuckle to think you were ever afraid. Sometimes the outcome isn't the one you wanted, and hope was just the thing that carried you through to the end and made you beautiful in adversity. But hope itself is never a lost cause.

Hope takes you to the beautiful places where you can't go without taking risks. It makes you strong when you don't have any logical things to draw strength from. Hope makes you vulnerable, and that means it makes you brave.

Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

The ability to hope in the darkness is the hallmark of a strong heart. Next time the world seems to crumble around you, or your testimony suddenly looks like a fragile house of cards, or you have to do something so big and so terrifying it's obvious you could never be successful – choose hope.

 Let hope give you the power to move forward.  

Article written by :Anne Beardsley

Most of my story is very normal: raised up and down the east coast of the United States, served a mission in Italy, met and married an amazing man while at BYU (we were both physics majors, so obviously we met in the Storytelling Club), and together had four delightful children. I'm living the dream as a stay-at-home mom.

It's the hobbies that get a little unusual. I practice four different martial arts, from genteel Japanese mediation archery to hardcore Russian Systema. Sometimes I even teach classic Japanese swordwork. (Pro tip: life is more fun when you have a sword).

I also really, really love the book of Isaiah. It's the most condensed and profound sermon on the atonement that I have ever seen. I taught a neighborhood class about Isaiah that ran for over a year, and am writing a commentary on it. It's a deep and tender book.

When I get a chance, I also write fiction.

The gospel is the best thing in my life – and the reason why everything else matters. If the Earth is a beautiful and magical place full of things to love, then the gospel of Jesus Christ is like the sun: it lights the world, holds it in orbit, makes life on Earth possible, and makes everything bloom and grow. - Anne