«And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You» (Psalm 39:7).
Hope Has been associated with beneficial effects on health. Its benefits become remarkable under extreme circumstances, especially when people are in situations where their lives are at risk.
A classic study about hope and life expectancy was conducted using field mice by Curt Rochter in 1957. They placed the mice in a container with water from which they could not get out to measure the maximum survival time of mice under stressful situations. He noticed that after approximately fifteen minutes, the rodents suffered sudden death. What was interesting to notice was that, if he pulled out the mice from the water and let them rest for a few minutes, the second time he tested them they were able to survive by swimming for about eighty hours! Richter thought that this short rescue had been able to generate «hope» in them mice, giving them the courage to endure many hours of swimming in the second test.
Likewise, even more interesting is that fact of what happens to human beings. There are many stories of people who cling to their hope and managed to survive the toughest situations. Juliane Koepcke traveled with 94 other passengers on flight 508 of Lansa L-188 on the 24th of December 1971. While flying over the Peruvian forest, a violent storm caused serious turbulences and fire on one of the plane’s engines. As the passengers realized what was happening, they started to cry and scream while Juliane’s mother calmly said: «This is the end; it’s over.» The plane fell from an altitude of over 3,000 meters, causing great tragedy. Some passengers managed to survive the impact because the trees in the forest attenuated the Fall. However, only seventeen-year-old Juliane clung to her life and decided to survive at all costs. Seriously wounded and suffering, and with a broken collarbone, she walked in search for help. She followed the flow of a stream in order to find a larger river as she hoped to find people there. Weak, famished, and with maggots stuck to her wounds, she was finally able to find help after two weeks.
We often cannot choose the events or situations in our life but we can choose the attitude with which we will face them. An attitude of confidence in the future can be of great help in dealing with difficulties. Even if our life is at risk and everything seems to go wrong, we can still repeat alongside the Psalmist, «And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You”.