Why Bob Hope lived so long

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Why Bob Hope lived so long

September 21, 2011 -

I’ve been thinking about Bob and Dolores Hope since her death Tuesday evening at the age of 102.  Her husband of 69 years died in 2003, two months after turning 100.  How can we explain their longevity?

It wasn’t a lack of stress.  Bob worked to support himself from the age of 12.  He starred in 52 films, appeared on television from 1932 to 1992, and made at least 199 trips to visit American troops overseas.  His career and pace were frenetic.

In such a home, humor was essential.  On his deathbed, when asked where he wanted to be buried, Bob told his wife, “Surprise me!”  On Dolores’ 100th birthday, her daughter Linda claimed that laughter in their home was a prime reason for her parents’ long lives.

Partnership was vital as well.  The couple married in 1934.  While she raised their four adopted children, he began touring.  When they celebrated their 50th anniversary, Bob explained how his wife tolerated him all those years: “I’ve only been home three weeks.”  She later gave him a paperweight inscribed, “Don’t think these three weeks haven’t been fun.”  In 1990, when Bob entertained American troops in Saudi Arabia, most women had to be excluded from the show.  An exception was made for Dolores, who sang “White Christmas” to the troops on Christmas Eve.

And faith played a significant role.  Dolores was a strong Catholic; she listened to his jokes and censored those that weren’t appropriate for a family audience.  “I learned to temper my humor in those years,” Bob said.  “Dolores was a tough critic.”

It’s been proven that religious people are happier under stress than the non-religious.  A commitment to Jesus is no guarantee that we will live longer, as the disciples’ martyrdoms proved.  But it is the foundation of a life lived well.

If Christ is your King, you know that you are in his hand (John 10:28) so that nothing can come to you without passing first through him.  If he is your Lord, you believe that he “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

If the Creator is your Father, when trials come you will “present your requests to God.”  With this result: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

How does your faith help you handle stress?  Do you have the “peace of God” this morning?

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