On Easter, voices of hope across New Hampshire
Irene Fisher, 3, of Marlborough, holds a sign of spring. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)
Their faith, their families and their fellow man: In a world that can sometimes seem hopeless, this is where many Granite Staters say they find hope.
For Christians, the Easter story itself is one of redemption and hope triumphing over sin and despair. So it's not surprising that many believers say their hope lies in their faith.
John Hilman of Rochester says he finds hope in his "relationship with God through Jesus Christ."
"Homes, jobs, and freedom and liberty can all be lost. To place one's hopes in anything Earthly is not logical to me," he wrote in response to a survey posted on unionleader.com.
Hilman knows what it's like to lose such things. A computer software engineer, he was laid off in 2007 when his employer merged with another company and laid off the entire staff.
Then Hilman suffered an aneurism in January 2012, which led to bleeding in his brain and surgery. It took months of rehabilitation before he could return to work, and his disability payments didn't cover expenses for his family of five.
They lost their house to foreclosure and their cars to repossession. "It was crazy," he said in an interview.
Yet he still has hope and an abiding faith, Hilman said. "With everything that's happened, the one thing that I still hold onto is this really isn't it. Life isn't really your final destination. Life is more just a journey to your final destination.
"I know that God is there," he said. "I know He's with me, and I know He has plans. And I know that in the end, when I die, that's where I'll be. That's what gives me hope."
He's not alone.
Kathy Masse of Manchester says she finds hope in "the resurrection of Jesus."
"It proves that He was the son of God. He preached a world of love and compassion," she said. "And the resurrection gives us the hope of something better, especially eternal life."
"Our hope is found in Jesus Christ alone," Suzanne McCutcheon of Rochester wrote in the online survey.
"Easter is about the rising of Christ after He was tortured and killed by man," she said. "It is not about bunnies and eggs, as this world has turned it into. There is still hope, there always will be because He is still here and always will be."
Jeremy Collins (left) of Newton finds hope "just by looking at the people around me and learning from their example."
"When you stop and really get a good look at the brighter side of humanity instead of focusing on the bad side, it will always make you hopeful for the future," he said. "Most people are generally good."
Likewise, Bob Shouse (right) of Portsmouth says he finds hope "in the spirit of my fellow man."
"I think in general mankind is optimistic, and with optimism there is hope," he said. "The sun will come up tomorrow, and one can always start over again, typically."
Paul Mallory of Bedford says he finds hope in the happiness of his wife and two sons. "I could very easily dwell and ruminate on the negatives that I don't have any control over, or I can choose to learn to live now," he said. "Not in the past or the future, but now.
"And right now in my life, I derive a lot of happiness from Donna, Jesse and Zachary."
Alex Knuuttenen (left) of Dover is hopeful about humanity. "No matter how bad the economy gets or how bad the world's problems are, I think we're smart enough to solve them.
"I myself have found that the happier I am, the happier I can help make the world. So just knowing that we're smart enough and generally good enough, as humans, to make things good again always gives me hope."
Luna Hardaker (right) of Epping says she looks to nature for hope, especially in springtime.
"Just the life, the flowers, the plants growing," she said. "There has been a lot of snow this winter, so it is refreshing to see the flowers starting to bloom."
Robin Healey of Sanbornville does not put her hope in human beings, who can fail and disappoint, or in material possessions, which can be lost. Instead, she said, "I find hope in sharing God's love with others."
"I find hope in His goodness, which is unchanging ... and His mercies, which are new every morning. I find hope in His perfect love, which casts out all fear," she said. "Last but certainly not least, I find hope in His gift of salvation ... freedom from death, freedom from my past — and even from my future."
Kristine Moulton of Auburn says her young son inspires her: "Just looking at him and seeing my husband and I both in him. Looking forward to the future and what's to come for him. That gives me hope."
New Hampshire Sunday News correspondents Gretyl Macalaster and April Guilmet contributed to this report.
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