Staff Corner - Pastor Greg Spires
A well-known scene in the movie Shawshank Redemption shows a prisoner, Andy, as he rejoins his fellow prisoners after spending two weeks in solitary confinement. He had been sent to solitary because he played classical music over the prison’s public address system. He wanted to boost morale and bring cheer to the otherwise dreary prison.
In the cafeteria, Andy joined his friends at their customary table. They wanted to know why he felt that playing music was worth a two-week stretch in the hole. He said the music was an important reminder of the beauty in the world. He needed assurance that no prison could take away his sense of wonder because the prison couldn’t take his imagination.
Andy’s friend, Red, didn’t understand. “What are you talking about?” Red asked.
“Hope,” Andy answered.
“Let me tell you something, my friend,” Red answered. “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You better get used to that idea.”
Decades in the same prison had stripped Red of any hope. Hope didn’t fit in the category of “pipe dreams” for Red. No, for Red, hope was a poison that could sap the strength needed to endure life's harsh realities in the big house.
Red was wrong about hope. He searched for the only comfort available in his despair: it is better to make do with the suffering you know than to wish for something better you can’t be sure of.
Unfortunately, this is how many people live even though they aren’t in prison. Nothing will ever change, they imagine. Life will always be the same. There isn’t any sense in looking forward because the disappointment will be too hard to bear. The difficulty and challenge of day in and day out suffering can grind out any hope that might remain. We can end up like Red, feeling like hope is too painful, so we try and make it through another day.
But life in Christ by the power of the Spirit is, by definition, a life of hope. Hope is our experience even when suffering is most profound. Faith that is rooted in the truth of the gospel understands that hope is a matter of faith in things that are certain yet not seen. Romans 8:24-25 says, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
We might assume, like Red, that suffering and difficulty are the enemies of hope. We think that hope belongs only to those who live well-appointed lives and have avoided the problems we have found. However, the Bible teaches us that the hope God gives will thrive in suffering. How is that possible?
First, hope is possible in suffering because every Christian has the power of the Holy Spirit. God will never leave us or forsake us. During those times when it seems dark, the Spirit is with us giving us the strength we need to make the Lord our hope.
Second, we find hope during times of trouble because those are the times that remind us most clearly that this world is not our home. During times of great comfort and ease, we tend to put our trust in the things of this world. However, when things go wrong, we are like a toddler who is suddenly scared: we look up to our Father with outstretched arms and cry, “Abba, Father!” We look to God as our hope during times of trouble because there is no other source of hope that lasts.
Is hope a dangerous thing? In the end, that depends on the object of our hope. If we place our hope in anything other than the Lord, it will always disappoint at some level. However, when God is our hope, He is the source of strength that allows us to endure until the day of our glory in Jesus.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Romans 8:18-30.
Praying with you,