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EVEN THE RATS HAVE HOPE

By Barry Cameron
June 19, 2020

Can you remember a time of greater global hopelessness than what we’re seeing right now? I can’t and I’ve witnessed a lot in my lifetime:

The Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, Watts riots of 1965, the shooting of Robert Kennedy in 1968, the shooting of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the riots that followed in 1968, Vietnam War, the oil crisis of the 70’s, Watergate, the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, Mount St. Helen’s eruption in 1980 (the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history), the Space Shuttle explosion in 1986, the Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, the Gulf War in 1991, LA riots in 1992, Branch Davidian standoff/fire where 76 people were killed, Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 where 168 people were killed, the O.J. Simpson trial in October 1995, the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal in 1998, the Colombine school shooting in 1999, Y2K in 1999/2000, September 11, 2001 when jets flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon killing over 3,000 Americans in a single day, the war in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, the Iraq War from 2003-2011, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 where 33 people were killed, the Great Recession of 2008-2009, Gulf Oil spill in April 2010, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 where 20 first graders and six school employees were killed, the bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013, Ferguson, Missouri riots in 2014, Isis, the Charleston Church shooting in 2015 where nine people were killed at a Bible study, Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the Las Vegas mass shooting where 58 were killed and over 400 wounded, the Sutherland Springs Church shooting in 2017 where 27 people were killed, the worst wildfires ever in California in 2018, the Mueller report and impeachment proceedings in 2019-2020. In 2019 alone, there were 369 mass shootings in the U.S. and there's so much more I could have added to this list.

Then came 2020 ...

A number of years ago, scientists conducted an experiment with rats putting them in a tank of water and observing how long they could survive before they drowned. Amazingly, the average time was 17 minutes. They repeated the experiment, but this time scientists rescued the rats just before they began to drown. When the “rescued” rats were put in the tank of water again, the average survival time increased to 36 hours!

Scientists explained the difference was “hope.” The rats believed they could survive because they’d been saved before.

John Ortberg said …

“Hope is the fuel that the human heart runs on. A car crash or a diving accident can paralyze a body, but the death of hope paralyzes the spirit.

Hope is what prompts a young man and woman to stand before a preacher and promise, ‘I do’ even though they have no guarantees.

Hope is what fuels the same couple, many years later, after broken promises and broken hearts, to give their promise another try.

Hope is why human beings keep bringing children into a fallen world.

Hope is why there are hospitals and universities.

Hope is why there are therapists and consultants and why the Cubs keep going to spring training.”1

Here’s my question: If rats can have hope treading water for 36 hours straight in a tank, can you and I have hope when our world seems to be tanking? When our health is waning, our kids are struggling, our marriage is imploding, our finances are crumbling?

It’s easy to talk about hope. But how can we walk in hope on a daily basis, especially during such troubled times? As you’ve probably already discovered, it’s one thing to talk about Scripture and quite another to live it out.

Paul said the secret to doing it is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The fact is, without Jesus you may be hopeful, but you can’t be hope filled. Why? Because Jesus is the Source of hope. The old song says, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Titus 2:13 calls Jesus our “blessed hope.” 1 Peter 1:3 refers to Him as our “living hope.”

Can you remember a time of greater global hopelessness than what we’re seeing right now? I can’t and I’ve witnessed a lot in my lifetime.‬

The Bible makes it clear JESUS is our ONLY hope (John 14:1-6). Its been accurately said, “Life without JESUS is a hopeless end, but life with JESUS is an endless hope.”

Chuck Swindoll said, “Without hope, prisoners of war languish and die. Without it students get discouraged and drop out of school. Without it, athletic teams fall into a slump and continue to lose … fledgling writers, longing to be published, run out of determination … addicts return to their habits … marriage partners decide to divorce. Hope isn’t merely a nice option that helps us temporarily clear a hurdle. It’s essential to our survival.”2

Rats have proven they can tread water for about 36 hours before drowning, because even rats can have hope. How long do you honestly think you can make it without hope? Without JESUS our “blessed hope?"

I wouldn’t try to swim without Him. That would be hopeless.

© 2020. Barry L. Cameron

1 Ortberg, John. If You Want to Walk on Water, Youve Got to Get out of the Boat. Zondervan, 2014. Pg. 156

2 Swindoll, Charles R. Hope Again. Word Pub., 1997. Pgs. xi and xii.

BARRY CAMERON

Senior Pastor

Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.

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