Many years ago some scientists did an experiment with a monkey where they placed the monkey in a cage to understand something about stress or anxiety. The aim of the experiment was to scare the monkey. To freak it out.
The researchers rattled the cage, had flashing lights and clashed symbols. As they did this the poor monkey was so freaked out that it became frozen in terror. At this point in the experiment they drew some blood and take a base line of cortisol levels in the brain. Cortisol is a hormone associated with high levels of stress. The results were not good, and it was evident that there was a high level of stress on this poor animal.
The scientists then made one change to the conditions that they believed would reduce the level of anxiety in the monkey. They didn’t stop the flashing lights, nor did that stop the clashing of the symbols or the shaking of the cage. The stressors remained exactly the same. Nothing had changed.
The one thing they did was to open the cage door and put the monkey’s buddy in. That was it. They placed another monkey in the cage with the one who was already in there. They repeated the experiment and drew blood again. This time, the stress level had dropped in half simply as a result of there being another monkey in the cage.
Now, I want to ask you a really important question? Who is your monkey? When your cage is being rattled. When the lights are flashing. When the cymbals are clashing. Who’s your monkey? Who is with you in those dark and difficult moments?
If you have ever been at a low point in your life, when you have lost your confidence, when you feel fearful and weak, when it seems like everyone is prevailing in life other than you, when you are misunderstood and mistreated, if you have ever experienced that and then had someone pray for you, stand beside you, listen to and care for you then you will understand the importance of having a monkey.
If you know who they are, go up to them and say “thank you for being my monkey”, or maybe just thank them without the monkey part.
Perhaps this week, if you might notice someone who is having their cage rattled, and they are looking stressed and anxious, maybe you could stand with them, pray for them and listen to them. Perhaps you can jump into their cage and be their monkey.