The Will to Live

hope-handI ran into an article online the other day about a family who was stranded out in the cold for 48 hours.  There was a massive search that took place, and finally, someone spotted them with their binoculars.

It turns out that the husband and wife were traveling with their children as well as their niece and nephew.  After rolling down an embankment in their Jeep, they had the foresight to start a fire and warm rocks.  They brought the rocks to the Jeep and used them to warm it up so that they could survive in the cold.

After I read this article, I was wondering to myself where I could get the survival book that these two must have read to have thought about this.  I guess that’s what I get for never having been a Boy Scout.  I think I probably would have done something stupid, like try to walk to find help, but this couple did what they could to survive, even after food had run out.  Their attitude influenced the attitude of the children and was probably a big reason why they all survived.

Fear of death is a powerful force and motivator.  I would gather that the force and motivation only increases when there are others involved.  You’re staying strong and fighting for someone else, you’re doing your best to survive because others are dependent upon you.  If you don’t survive, how can they?

This story was a powerful depiction to me of the will to live and the great lengths to which people might go to stay alive.  I love hearing stories like this considering how often that it seems we are treated with stories on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Too many news articles or stories talk of lives that have ended early and unnecessarily and it’s nice to hear this kind of an encouraging story.

As I thought through the courage of this man and woman, as well as the courage of those four children, I wondered how powerful the will to live was for me.  Having looked death in the face of those who I love in recent years, my mortality has seemingly been laughing at me, chiding me and daring me to think that I am immortal.  Any experience of my own which required medical attention had my mind whirling around, assuming the worst and hoping for the best.

Who you are surrounded by makes a difference, at least it does to me.  I think that my family is a driving force in how hard I would fight should I find myself in a situation like these people did.  But how about those who have no family to speak of?  How about those who have been abandoned by families and marginalized by the world?  Where does their will to live come from?  Do they think that their live is meaningless and disposable?  Do others think that about them?

Our will to live can be directly proportionate to the level of hope that we have.  I am no doctor, but I would gather that when people believe that there is still hope, even when fighting against the odds and the possibility of facing their own mortality, their chance of survival will always be higher than when they lose hope.  I have seen this and experienced it myself.

The Apostle Paul speaks of the hope that those who follow Christ have found when he writes in Romans 8 and 1 Thessalonians 4.  But hope is not always a guarantee because we can’t always feel it or touch it, smell it or taste it, or even have it answer us back.  It’s not a guarantee in the moment, and yet we hold on to it and put our faith in what we know of God.  We put our faith in the promises that we have received from God and then we trust, we hope.

As we journey further into this holiday season, I can’t help but count my blessings for the hope that I have and the people around me who help in encouraging that hope as well.  I am fully aware of the many others whose hope has vanished, and it saddens me.  It saddens me to think that people have come to a place of hopelessness, not thinking that there is anything to fight for, anything worth living for, only death.  Hope is contagious, and I hope that I’m spreading some of it around.

(If you want to check out the news article about this family, click here)

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