Our daughter was choking. Her eyes were as big and as round as the butterscotch disk that was wedged in her windpipe. I went from being a controlled health care professional trained in advanced life support to a frantic mom screaming in horror as my husband flipped her upside down and started pounding on her back as she went limp.

And then it was over. Alyssa spoke. Three beautiful words, even more welcomed in that moment than “I love you.” She said, “I swallowed it!” My little girl went without air for a handful of minutes and, just when I thought it was hopeless, the disk was dislodged. For days I remembered those manic moments on opposite ends of life’s bipolar spectrum. From hope starved to hope filled. Literally that afternoon they were separated by a single breath.

What chokes your hope? Does a death or a diagnosis? Or a disease like diabetes myelitis or malignant melanoma? Failing health or faltering finances? Addiction, abuse or abandonment? A spouse being unfaithful can leave us short of breath and short of hope. None of us are immune from being breathless or hopeless.

Hope is like oxygen to our soul. And just as we need oxygen, we need hope to thrive. It’s a fact. In medical literature, the physiological effects of hope are well documented.

In The Anatomy of Hope, Dr. Jerome Groopman explains that researchers are learning hope has the power to alter neurochemistry by releasing the brain’s endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine. His research shows that during an illness, hope impacts the nervous system. This starts a cascade, making improvement and recovery more likely. Hope is part of what we have long called “the placebo effect.”

Some say that hope is a wish. But with faith, we can do much more than just wish. We can have eternal hope, for we learn in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for.” The Bible teaches that while faith is built on past experiences, hope is focused on future experiences. It seems to me that when faith steps into the future, she becomes hope.

Without faith, we’re left with a wish. This leaves us breathless, longing for more. A wish is weak, starving for oxygen. With healthy hope we can do more…become more…endure more…and enjoy more!

What chokes your hope?

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