“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” Jeremiah 17:7 Hope is a wonderful thing. Jeremiah 29:11 declares, “. . . I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Other translations read: “… to give you a future and a hope.” Where there is hope we can endure all sorts of trouble and yet still press on … because we know what lies ahead, “… forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Without hope we can find ourselves in a fog; we can lose direction and give up.
We recently read of a young lady named Florence Chadwick, who in 1952, attempted to swim from Catalina Island off the shore of California to the mainland twenty-two miles away. She had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel, which is about 21 miles across, both ways, so she felt quite confident that she could make this swim also.
As they came to the day the swim was to occur, it was not a good day for it. It was foggy and chilly and she could barely see the boats that accompanied her. Still, she went ahead with it. But as she swam, she had difficulty. Several times she wanted to give up and stop swimming, but her mother kept encouraging her to keep swimming, and that it wasn’t much further.
Yet, Florence could barely see the boat next to her, much less the shore. So, finally, after fifteen hours of swimming, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped and was lifted into one of the boats.
It wasn’t until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away. She had gone so far, but because she could not see the goal, she had given up hope.
The following day, she is quoted as saying, “All I could see was the fog. I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”
Can you relate to those words?
In our lives, we often experience things that can cause a fog. Worry, doubt, strained relationships, ill health, financial uncertainty can all cause us lose sight of the goal, and so, to lose hope. But we must remember that the shore is there, whether we can see it or not.
We can never lose hope. For when we lose hope, we lose all initiative to keep pressing on. But like the apostle Paul, we MUST press on! “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
Here’s another example of “Hope”. During a study at Harvard in the 1950s, Dr. Curt Richter placed rats alone in a tub of water to test how long they could tread water. On average they would give up and sink after about 15 minutes. In subsequent experiments he decided to do something different. When he saw that the rats had given up due to exhaustion — just before they drowned — he would pick them up out of the water, dry them off and hold them for a few minutes. Then he would put them back into the water for a second round.
To his amazement, the rats lasted as long as 60 hours in subsequent experiments! Just think of that! That’s two and a half days!
What made the difference? When the rats learned that someone would eventually pick them up and rescue them, they didn’t give up, and they didn’t go under. Richter wrote, “After the elimination of hopelessness, the rats do not die.”
Oh, what a difference HOPE makes!
Now, I know that there are many differences between humans and rats, but one similarity is evident – we all need a reason to keep going, something to look forward to, a reason to press on.
Life can be very hard. I sometimes wonder how I have made it this far. How am I still here? How have I not just given up and died? It’s because I know there is a Saviour … and because there is a Saviour, there is hope. His Name is Jesus! In Hebrew it means, Jehovah will save!
I know that before I drown, He is going to pick me up out of the troubled waters of the cares and trials of this life, and He’s going to dry me off and hold me. He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me, and therefore I carry on.
It has been said, Where there’s life, there’s hope. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes life can actually cause a person to lose hope. But in Christ there is hope, and where there’shope, there’s life.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” Psalms 42:5