Other emotions. The development of altruistic feelings in childhood. Christian hope. Resting your heart upon God. The expectation of future happiness.
The aesthetical feeling, discussed in the preceding chapter, is one of the emotions of the human heart. Other emotions have even a greater significance for a Christian, the feeling of sympathy and antipathy, family, friendly, and national attachments, the feeling of compassion and pity and so forth. Of course, all these exalted feelings must be developed in the heart of a Christian, if possible, from the youngest years.
Alas! This is exactly what does not ordinarily occur! Unfortunately, in many very, very good Christian families, life is structured so that the parents consciously avert pictures of human suffering, sadness, serious calamities and trials from their children. This over-protectiveness towards children from severe reality brings only negative results of course. Children brought up in a sheltered, greenhouse atmosphere, removed from life, grow up effeminate, spoiled, unprepared for life, and often, thick-skinned egotists, used to being only demanding and having wishes gratified, not being able to yield, to serve, to be useful to others. But life cruelly breaks and often unbearably, painfully punishes such people, and sometimes from the youngest years, from school age.
That is why, if you love children, you must kindle these qualities in them from childhood. But most important, there must be one, definite, Christian goal before the eyes of the parents and before the eyes of their children, that children, growing up and developing physically, also develop spiritually by becoming better, kinder, more pious, more sensitive… For this, one must place pictures of human needs and grief before children, giving them the opportunity to help. Children will themselves strive towards kindness and truth, for everything pure, kind, and light is especially dear and kindred to a child’s unspoiled soul.
Those emotions, about which we have spoken of so far, including the noblest among them, pity and sympathy, are found in everyone. Going now to feelings of a purely Christian type, let us examine the feeling of Christian hope. Christian hope may be defined as a heartfelt, lifelong remembrance of God by a Christian, indissolubly connected to an assurance in His Fatherly love and help. Man, having such a hope in his heart, always and everywhere feels himself to be under His Father’s protection, just as everywhere in the physical world, he sees the immense vault of the heavens. A Christian, hoping in God, will never reach despair, will never feel himself hopelessly alone. A position can only seem to be hopeless to an unbeliever; a person, believing and hoping in God, knows His closeness to the grieving human heart, and will find comfort and courage and help in Him.
Of course, the crown and height of Christian hope is in the future. We, Christian, know that our Symbol of Faith, in which all the main truths of Christianity are gathered, ends with the words, “hoping and expecting the resurrection of the dead and the life of the future age. Amen”. (The Church-Slavonic word chaiu – чаю - means to expect but not only to expect, also to hope and desire with the whole heart that it should come sooner.)
The full actualization of radiant Christian hope will occur only when life finally triumphs over death and God’s Truth over worldly falsehood. Then, “everything will pass and only truth will remain”, says a Russian proverb. Then all the grief of every sufferer will be assuaged for God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4). And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isaiah 25:10). This is the height and crown of the fullest actualization of Christian hope and the triumph of those, who were banished and stifled and driven out in their earthly life for Christ’s Truth…