DayBreaks for 5/07/18: Drowning Rats and Hope
From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:
I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard. If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)! It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope. But it is very important that we do so! Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: “A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope! Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.”
It is sometimes easier to hope than others. But as G. K. Chesterton put it: “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.” I think he makes a good point. If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on? Ourselves. And then it isn’t hope, is it?
Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank. We are of much greater value. We weren’t put here by some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation. God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us. We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do! We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning. God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank. God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today.
Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and has lifted us out.
When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you. You will see the Son of God at your side. He will not fail you. He will not let you down. You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is.
We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.
PRAYER: Thank you that you not only didn’t leave us hopeless, but gave us the greatest reason for hope ever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.