There’s a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth… Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy… So simple… And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope’.
Ah, the bitter sweetness of this thing we call hope. Without it, we can resign ourselves to a life that will never improve or, at least, if it does, it will be an unexpected surprise. Without it, we can never be truly disappointed – we didn’t expect things to go well anyway. A thoroughly pessimist existence – a life with no feeling, except perhaps, the self-congratulation of knowing our prophecies of doom usually come true.
A little hope? What if we dare to believe things could be different? That we can change, the world can change? That we could climb the rope out of the dark prison of despair and pessimism? Surely this climb is dangerous?
As the writer of Proverbs penned: ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick’.
Of course, when we have hope we also have the possibility of disappointment, of the heart becoming ‘sick’, but surely it depends on what, or whom, you put your hope in.
Long ago, the Jews put their hope in a coming king who would rule the world with complete justice and during whose unending reign, there would be no more war, poverty or sickness. Jesus claimed to be this king, the fulfillment of this hope. And yet we still wait, still hope for his promised global reign.
As Paul wrote to the first Christians who were trying to make sense of how to live under harsh Roman rule:
‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently’.(Romans 8).
Paul believed we could be changed by the work of God’s Spirit in our lives and that, ultimately, the whole earth would be renewed.
Living with unfulfilled hope is never easy but surely it’s better than despair and resignation?
Let’s live in the light of the hope of the gospel and may we keep on ‘climbing the rope’, whatever knocks we might receive as we do.
(Written by Ian Peacock)