"Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane" -Red, Shawshank Redemption
"Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies" -Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption
Last week my friends quoted the second of the Shawshank quotes, a familiar movie although I have never seen it the whole way through, and an even more familiar quote.
On the last night of my summer project to Chicago (meaning, 3 1/2 weeks ago...), we were sitting by the Shedd Aquarium, overlooking the city. Our project director asked us what we had learned while we were in Chicago that we would take home with us. For the first time of actually processing it and putting it into words, this is what I came up with:
I love the city. I really do. I've learned that. I've also learned that there are a lot of broken people that think they have no hope in this world. It breaks my heart, but it's true. God has so much hope for them! He knows that it is possible for them to change, for him to work in their lives and save them from hopelessness and despair. He loves them so much! I also learned that I lose hope for people. There are many people that I meet or interact with that I think, "they will never change. They don't and never will see their need for God, so why should I even go there." Problem is, God has hope for them, too. He has changed my life. He has changed my heart. I once had no hope for myself and God didn't give up on me! He doesn't give up on others, either. He will keep pursuing them. There is still hope. "no good thing ever dies..."
Since I was thinking about that more over the past few weeks, I decided to do a Bible study on what hope we have, and what hope we don't have. Another thing that brought this up was the suicide attempt of someone close to me, and hearing about one of a friend of a friend (does that make sense?). I thought about what it would be like to not want to live. That feeling must stem from a lack of hope. I mean, if this is all there is; if this life is it, who would want to stick around? Let's be real, this life sucks sometimes. If this is as good as it gets, that is not something that we can cling to. So what is there? What keeps people going? What makes my life different?
From my study, there are 6 things we can definitely put our hope in (that is, if a person claims to be a follower of Christ). The first is the Word. The second, God's unfailing love. The third, the Lord. The fourth, the glory of God. The fifth, salvation. The sixth, eternal life. The Bible also talks about what not to put our hope in: wealth, our possessions, this life. Let me share with you some of the scripture that I found, and let it speak for itself.
"A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our sheild. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you." Psalm 33:17-22Colossians 1: 24-27
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken." Psalm 62:5-6
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning." Psalm 130:5-6
"[God's] pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:10-11
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will sour on wings like eagles; the will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:28-31
"But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet." 1 Thessalonians 5:8
"Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love..." 1 Corinthians 13:13
"This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:9-10
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." 1 Timothy 6:17
Hebrews 6 talks about hope being an "anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1There are more references to hope, and there are many more words that I could put along with these verses to explain what I'm thinking about them. What I wanted to do, though, is to get this out there and urge those reading (if there are any!) to dig through the contexts of these verses, too. What should we hope in? What should we hope for? What's the difference? What shouldn't we hope in? Why is this important to understand and cling to?