CLERGY CORNER: The Power of Hope

Posted on 26 July 2018 by LeslieM

An experiment was once undertaken by researchers seeking to determine the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. They used lab rats for the project and divided them into two groups that were placed into two separate tubs of water. One group was left in the water and within an hour had all perished. The other group was taken out of the water for short periods of time and then returned. They were able to last for over 24 hours. The researchers determined that it wasn’t the periodic rest but the hope of rescue from the water that kept the second group of rats swimming longer.

The same power that hope holds for unthinking rodents is found to be present in the lives of cognitive humanity. If there is one faint flicker of hope in the greatest of challenges, we will fight to survive and more than likely emerge victorious. Someone once declared that “hope is the poor man’s bread.” It is what keeps us living and longing for a better day. Life and experience have proven the veracity of the maxim that “where there is a will there is a way,” and there are many persons whose lives are a testament to the invincible power of hope.

Famed Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl had studied the theories of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. He followed in their footsteps, examining life and human behavior. His experience in Hitler’s concentration camps led him to postulate his own ideas about the basic drive in human beings. Having lived through and survived the terror of the camps, he rejected Freud’s pleasure principle. Victims faced an abundance of pain and suffering in the camps but never any pleasure. He similarly rejected Adler’s idea that power was man’s basic need. In the camps, they were victims of the cruelest behavior, and the idea of power was inconceivable.

Frankl surmised that what had enabled people to survive the concentration camps was hope. They believed that life had meaning, and that one day their difficulties would end allowing them to live purposeful lives. We can lose many things in life and still find a way to live and the strength to go on, but, if robbed of hope, we lose the very will to exist. Death inevitably steals our loved ones, but we persevere. Money and material things are fleeting, and we learn to hold them loosely. Illness diminishes our health as we grow older, but we manage to survive nonetheless. To live without hope though, is to live in an unending nightmare unable to awaken to a more calming reality.

Psalm 27:13 (KJV) records King David’s conclusion about his life and experience with God. “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” It is a powerful proclamation made from the perspective of review and relief. David is convinced that had he not possessed hope when facing an unnamed crisis, the outcome would have been disastrous.

He offers us encouragement to similarly entrust our lives to God’s oversight and intervention. We will all face fainting circumstances, the kinds which bring fear and claw away at our confidence and security. But powerless though we may be in the face of adversity, we have an all-powerful ally who responds to faith in those who look to Him.

Hope cannot exist in a vacuum, it does not thrive in an empty space. It is inextricably linked to the knowledge of possibility and the awareness of help. The lesson of the lab rats and the concentration camp survivors is that hope must be placed in someone or something greater than the individual and more powerful than the difficulty.

David identifies whom our hope and expectations should be placed upon. May we never lose our hope, for God is always available.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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