The Healing Power of Hope
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."1 – King Solomon
Norman Cousins was a doctor who treated leprosy and edited the Saturday Review magazine in the early 1960s. After suffering a painful and prolonged illness, he became fascinated on ways in which to fight against the “pain intensifiers” that he identified as negative emotions that increase the amount of pain a person feels.
"Cousins concluded that if negative emotions could produce chemical changes in the human body, then positive emotions such as hope, faith, love, joy, the will to live, creativity and playfulness could counteract the results of negative emotions and thereby reduce pain.
"Cousins began a research group at the UCLA medical school and studied the effects of positive emotions on health and pain. He surveyed 649 oncologists and asked them what psychological and emotional factors in their patients seemed important to them. Over 90 percent of those surveyed assigned the highest value to the attitudes of hope and optimism.
"Paul Brand writes about this research, 'One of the most important gifts we in the health profession can offer our patients is hope, thereby inspiriting in the patient a deep conviction that inner strength can make a difference in the struggle against pain and suffering.'"2
Interesting how God's Word, the Bible, taught the importance of hope in health and well-being three thousand years ago. Modern medicine came to this conclusion through research 50 or so years ago!
And what greater hope can anyone ever have that the Christian whose hope in in the Lord—no matter what happens. As David, the psalmist, wrote, "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD."3
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that no matter what happens to me, my trust and my hope are in You. And I thank You for the healing power that this gives. Gratefully in Jesus's name. Amen."
1. Proverbs 13:12 (NIV).
2. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Cousins.
3. Psalm 31:24 (NIV).