In the 1950’s, Curt Richter, a well-known Harvard graduate, biologist, psychobiologist, and geneticist with Johns Hopkins University did a series of experiments with rats that resulted in an astonishing discovery.
He placed several rats in containers of water to see how long they could swim before they gave up and drowned.
Gruesome, to be sure!
But why would a respected scientist conduct such a brutal experiment on helpless animals? The results may surprise you.
Richter conducted his experiments by placing rats into buckets filled with water and seeing how long they survived. Typically they’d give up and sink after 15 minutes.
Now, Richter duplicated this same experiment with more rats but altered one thing.
Right before these rats gave up due to exhaustion, he would pluck them out, dry them off, let them rest for a few minutes – and put them back in for a second round.
In this second try – how long do you think they lasted?
Remember – they had just swam until failure only a few short minutes ago…
How long do you think they lasted before sinking?
Another 15 minutes?
60 hours of swimming… that’s two and a half DAYS!!!
His conclusion was since the rats believed they would eventually be rescued, they pushed their bodies way past what they thought was impossible before.
Results: A rat that was temporarily saved survived 240 times longer than one that was not given any intervention.
Richter’s conclusion: Saving a rat from drowning – even temporarily, gave that rat HOPE.
So if hope can make such a dramatic difference in the life of an animal, what might it do for a human being?
Many times people enter our lives emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes even physically “drowning”.
They’re trying to just tread water as their life seemingly swirls around them, feeling as if they are getting pulled under at every turn. What these people need is an infusion of hope. And that’s exactly what we’re called to do as Christians.
As Ambassadors of Christ, we should radiate the Love of Christ, so when others enter our presence they feel like honored guests and not unwelcome interruptions.
When we cultivate the presence of Christ and radiate His Love we are essentially taking them out of the swirling waters of their lives, drying them off, providing them an opportunity to rest, and giving them hope.
Three years ago Cheslie Kryst won the title of Miss North Carolina and went on to be Crowned Miss USA. Three weeks ago she did an interview with Denzel Washington where they were laughing and smiling.
Last week, she jumped from a 29 story building leaving only a note giving her mother her worldly possessions.
I don’t know what pain and trauma led her to make that fateful decision but it shows that you never know what others are suffering through and dealing with.
It clearly shows us that we can never underestimate the power of a friendly smile, a helping hand, or an encouraging word.
Proverbs 25:11 tells us, “the right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver.”
Who could have spoken the right word at the right time to Cheslie?
The Poet, Alexander Pope famously penned, “Hope springs eternal” but sadly, life reminds us that this is not always the case… sometimes, people do lose all hope.
For someone to take their own life they must come to a place of complete despair and totally abandon all hope.
Who could have turned this young woman’s life around with an infusion of hope, we may never know.
One thing we can certainly take away is to determine that such a tragedy never happens to anyone in our sphere of influence.
We can decide to become that beacon of hope to everyone we encounter and make a difference in the lives of those we touch.
For the honor and for the glory of Christ. Amen.