The Power of Hope

One of my favorite sayings is “Hope in the future brings power to the present.” You see the truth in that saying played out all the time.

It is the hope of a championship season gives a football player the will to get through two-a-days in the heat of August. The hope of becoming a positive influence on a child’s life drives teachers and educators. The hope of getting healthy and losing weight gives a person the motivation to skip the cheesecake and spend an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill. The hope of a normal life gives an addict the push through rehab and the drive to make the conscious decision not to use. The Bible is filled with Scriptures that relate to the power of hope. The casino industry, and state lotteries, too, are entire industries that play upon people’s hopes of striking it big.

And science even suggests that hope can heal. Think about the well-documented placebo effect: Study after study reports that patients who are given a sugar pill or other form of inactive substance in place of real medication often report feeling better.

A story in The Light, a book by author and journalist Mike Evans, illustrates the power of hope. Evans describes a group of scientists who performed an experiment using rats, aiming to uncover how outside factors affected their will to live.

One rat was placed in a large tub of water with sides high enough to prevent it from getting out. In addition, the room was pitch black. The researchers timed how long the rat would keep swimming before it gave up. The creature struggled for a little more than three minutes before giving up.

In the next part of the experiment, the researchers placed another rat in the same tub of water. But this time, they placed a bright light into the room. The second rat swam for more than 36 hours – that’s 700 times longer than the rat with no light.

The reason for that determination? The second rat literally saw the light at the end of the tub. In other words, it had hope, a reason to keep swimming.

It’s the same with humans. Without hope, without a light to move toward and focus on, we flail about in the tub of life like, well, a drowning rat in the darkness. Reconnect with what gives you hope, focus on it, and move toward it.

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