Lech Lecha(Genesis 12-17)
Don't Give Up Hope
When it comes to things that are worthwhile, we should never give up hope. Abraham and Sarah were childless for many, many years and had reached the age when most people would have long given up hope of ever having a child. Yet they continued to hope and pray for a child to love and to follow in their footsteps teaching the world about God. In the end, God answered their prayers and gave them a child - Isaac. We can learn from here, the power of not giving up hope.
In our story, a kid helps her friend discover the power of hope.
THE 'HOPE' DIAMOND
Fall carnival was something Kim and her friends looked forward to all year. When carnival was in town, permanent smiles painted all the kids' faces nearly as big as the ones on the clowns in the clown show.
That's why Kim was so surprised while walking through the carnival to come across her friend, Janet, sitting and frowning on a bench next to one of the crowded booths, her head resting glumly on her hand.
"Hey, Janet, what's the matter?" she asked her, concerned.
"Oh, hi Kim," her friend answered somberly. "I'm really upset. I just discovered that I lost the locket I was wearing."
"Ouch. That's too bad. Is it something valuable?"
"Well, yeah, especially to me. It has a picture of my grandmother who passed away last year. We were really close. She always called me her 'twin granddaughter' because she looked just like me at her age. The locket has the only picture I have of her as a child and it, like ... you know, helps me still feel connected to her. And now it's gone!"
"That's awful! Did you look all over for it?"
Janet shrugged. "I looked around where I found out it was missing and near some of the rides I went on, but no luck - it's hopeless." Janet lowered her head into both her hands - until she felt a tug on her arm. She looked up.
"Janet, you can't give up," Kim insisted. "That locket's too important to you. Come on, let's keep looking - I'll help you."
The two girls started to search the carnival grounds, row by row, looking on the ground and asking the people running the booths if they'd seen it, but nothing was turning up.
"Kim, I appreciate your wanting to help," Janet said with a sigh, "but let's face it, we're never going to find it. This carnival is huge, full of people and even if someone did find it, why wouldn't they just keep it themselves?"
Kim shook her head.
"No, Janet. Don't give up hope. Think about your grandma. Let's just keep looking a little more, okay?"
"I do want to find it. I so much want to have hope, but..." Suddenly a little boy walked up to them and pointed to Janet excitedly.
"Hey, I know who you are!" he said loudly. Janet looked at the boy but didn't recognize him.
"What do you mean?" she said, confused.
"I know who you are, because..." he repeated as he reached into his pocket and pulled something out. "You're her!" he said, pointing to the picture in the open locket.
"See, Mommy - it's the girl in the picture. Now we can give back the necklace I found on the ground, right?"
The young kid, with his smiling mother standing behind him, handed Janet the locket.
"Oh! I ... I just can't believe this! Thank you both soooo much!" Janet gushed as she held the locket close to her heart. "And thank you! "she said, turning to Kim. "For helping me keep on looking - and keep on hoping."
Q. How did Janet feel about her chances of finding her locket?
A. She felt like giving up since it seemed impossible.
Q. How did Kim help her feel?
A. That she should keep on looking and hoping that she'd find it.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. Many times when a person has a problem or challenge, she can feel like giving up on finding a solution, but often, if we just keep hoping and trying, in the end things will work out.
Q. Is there ever a time that it's right to give up hope?
A. Sometimes things are final and there is literally nothing left to do, but until that point, if we're aiming for something important and worthwhile, it never hurts - and often helps - to hope.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Our sages teach that a person shouldn't give up hope even if the blade of the sword is on his neck. How do you understand this?
A. Even if a tough situation looks virtually impossible to overcome, we should retain our hope and know that God can save and help us in ways we could never imagine.
Q. Do you think a person's hoping for something can affect physical reality?
A. Our thoughts are very powerful and can actually cause changes in physical reality. Strong hopes - especially when those hopes are directed toward God - can have a real and visible impact on our lives.