You may be familiar with the ‘50’s experiments with rats. They were placed in containers of water with walls too high for climbing and water to deep for standing. The rats drowned quickly. However, if the rat was rescued after it stopped swimming just before drowning, and then subjected to the same experiment later, the rat could swim much longer.
Hope is important to people as well. Even if it’s the carrot dangling in front of us, offering that false sense of hope and security, it keeps us going, at least for a season.
I remember a story a coworker told me years back. His aging grandfather had recently died, well into his nineties. He had lived an independent lifestyle forever, even after retiring from work. He stayed busy with chores around the house, made his own oatmeal every morning. One day one of his kids decided he was much too old to live alone, and insisted he sell the place and move in. With nothing to strive for, no goals left, no hope for anything other that sleeping and eating, he went downhill quickly and was soon gone. How many times does this happen to retirees?
This morning I was on our sun room with my wife. We have new windows, and you can slide the windows to a variety of positions to have it screened in, or completely open. Susie noticed a wasp flying around, bumping in to the windows, trying to get out but well beyond the point of fear or fight. He had lost all hope, and out of instinct kept buzzing around the same spot, weakly trying to escape. He was following the same routine that had probably started the night before when he flew in the open door to the back yard, then became trapped when someone came in and closed the door.
Susie walked to the window and opened it so the wasp could escape. Oddly, the wasp kept banging in to the glass, a foot away from freedom. She tried to shoo the wasp toward the open window, but instead of darting violently through the room in self defense, looking for a method of escape at the same time, he weakly flew back to the same spot, ignoring the help. He actually fought against moving in any other direction. I walked over and tried moving him toward a different window, which was now wide open. The wasp had lost all hope, and now had tunnel vision. Running on nothing but instinct, he spent his last hours suffering in a no win situation, only a foot from freedom.
Where do we place our hope? Is it right in front of us all along?