Why Hope Is Essential For Life
I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints. Psalm 52:9
The late Dr. Karl Menninger, the famed psychiatrist, was intrigued by the emotion hope. Many studies have been done relative to the importance of love and faith; but as a psychiatrist, Dr. Menninger became convinced of hope’s great importance related to survival. Hope is the enduring quality of the soul that gives strength to live and go on in the darkest of night.
Some time ago the world waited with bated breath for word that a group of miners, trapped in an eastern Pennsylvania coal mine, had survived. It seemed there was no hope for the safety of these men, though rescue operations frantically continued. Down below in the mine, the trapped men also began to wonder if there was any chance of rescue. For several days they tapped the timbers overhead, then they strained every fiber of their beings listening for a return sound that would let them know that rescue was on the way. In time the rescue team did hear the tapping. As they listened, faintly yet clearly distinct, came the question tapped in Morse code: Is there any hope?
Hope is the very lifeblood of human existence. The grim wars that our world has faced have proven without question that a person can endure almost impossible circumstances if he or she has hope. People have survived the horrors of concentration camps, the gnawing hunger of starvation, and the intense suffering of torture when they had hope they would survive.
Any hospital chaplain will tell you that hope is the secret of survival, for if a person has hope that he will live, he can endure almost any amount of suffering. A person may face an illness where the odds are against recovery, but if there is hope, the individual will fight on. Hope is often a more powerful medicine than the strongest antibiotic. It is an indescribable mainstay to the souls of people. It brings life where death seems inevitable.
Interestingly enough, this fact has been scientifically proven at the Johns Hopkins Research Center. Dr. Curt Richter, directing a psychobiological study, tells that when rats were put into a hopeless situation they gave up and died even though food and water were present. If, however, the hopeless feature was removed, the animals would fight to survive and did survive.
Dr. Charles Malik, former head of the United Nations General Assembly, has said that hope for a world in crisis depends upon the things in which we can trust. A man who faces surgery must base his hope for survival upon a trust in his surgeon. A man who faces the agonies of war responds to the love of his wife who is waiting for him. He has hope because he has her love.
The law of hope operates just as surely in the realm of the spiritual. A person who is trusting Christ as his personal Savior has an enduring hope of eternal life that will never fail. The writer of the book of Hebrews, in the New Testament, described this hope as “an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19). He said that we can find refuge and lay hold of the hope that is before us. This hope is Jesus, who has provided a way of salvation for those who look to Him.
Despair is the very opposite of hope. And that’s what happens when you see no possible solution. It is then that you give up and lose your hold on life. When you ask hope to walk with you through each crisis, you have hope for the future. Trust Him, friend, and let Him take you through your despair.
Resource reading: Hebrews 6