One of my favorite movies is Shawshank Redemption. It’s got some unsavory portions, but it does a really good job illustrating hope. 

Red: “I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Doesn’t make much sense in here.”

Andy: “Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.” 

Red: “Forget?” 

Andy: “Forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside that they can’t get to, they can’t touch. It’s yours.”

Red: “What are you you talking about?”

Andy: “Hope.” 

Red: “Hope? Let me tell you something, hope is a dangerous thing. Hope will drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You better get used to that idea.” 

Shawshank Redemption

I wonder if that’s not a driving force in the world today. I wonder if we haven’t bought into the idea that hope doesn’t have any place in the world today. I wonder if media giants aren’t intentionally trying to take away our hope so they can hold us in some form of a digital prison. Nah, that sounds too crazy. 

We’re a lot like those prisoners in Shawshank. We’re in a broken and corrupted world. We have the illusion of freedom, but in reality we’re subservient to the destructive forces surrounding us. In fact, it almost seems like there are many who would argue the same way. Hope has no use in this day and age. Hope just disappoints. The hope that things will get better makes us crazy that things aren’t better right now. Millennials are the first generation to think that the world won’t be better off for their kids.  
And yet, we are supposed to be the people of a better hope. Our hope isn’t anchored to the drifting buoys of culture. Our hope is anchored to Jesus himself. This is the hope that anchors our soul. So yeah, Andy is right. There is something in us that they can’t get to. There is something inside us that they can’t touch. It’s ours. 

Sure, we may look at the world around us and wonder what in the literal hell is going on. It seems like the cold, grey oppressive nature of the overwhelming giants of our time are all there is. Look one way and someone is screaming about climate change. Look another and someone is screaming about the opioid epidemic. Look another and be overwhelmed by homelessness, rising rent and minimal vacancies. And none of that is looking at our governmental leaders who seem hell-bent on proving to the world that they have more backbone than the people hurling insults, half-truths and blatant lies from both sides to both sides at all times. 

The dark grey stone and oppressive iron gates are closing in on us from every side. Where is the hope? Maybe, like Andy, we aren’t supposed to allow the forces of the surrounding environment to be the determining factor for our hope. Maybe, we’re supposed to be different. Maybe, we’re supposed to be people who have a better hope, one that isn’t dependent on calm seas and easy travels, but one that is dependent instead on the person of Jesus Christ. 

I should probably talk again about influence. I feel like I say it all the time, but we also still seem to be wrapped up in it. I know, for myself, I tend to lose hope when I allow myself to be too influenced by the spiritual forces of this world. I, crazy as it may sound, believe that there are spiritual forces behind a lot of the hatred and spite, anger and rage in our time. I don’t think it’s just people being people, I think there are spiritual forces at play. They are the spiritual entities that rebelled against God at the same time Adam and Eve chose to turn their backs on their creator. Look it up, it’s in the Bible. 

These spiritual forces are in charge of this world. The prince of the air, as Paul calls him has been given authority by God (For reasons that are hard to understand and explain) in this present darkness we live in. 
But here’s the thing. He may be the prince of this present darkness, but Jesus is the prince of eternal light. Sure, what we experience with our physical senses can be oppressive, but what we should be experience with our spiritual senses can be so refreshing, freeing and enlightening. 
In Psalm 42, the psalmists shares a trick that’s worth understanding. He asks his soul a questions. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” How is it with your soul? Is your soul downcast and disturbed? If so, why? I’ll bet, at least part of it (if not the majority) is because you (and I) take in too much influence from the spiritually dark forces dominating the world around us. 

Yesterday we talked about rest. Resting in the finished work of Jesus. We said that rest doesn’t mean we don’t have work to do. It means that we’re not striving to accomplish the task. Jesus accomplished it for us. 

But the one of the dominant voices of our society is hurry. Strive harder. Work harder, accomplish more. Hustle. You can sleep when your dead. Why do we let ourselves listen to the siren song of accomplishment if the greatest work is already finished? Simple. Influence. We’ve given ourselves over to the dominant influential forces of this time by consuming 11 hours of media per day, watching success stories of world changers, seeing our friend portray a life we could never live up to and the only option we seem to have is to drive and strive to keep up. 

And we kill ourselves and crush our spirits trying to do just that. We have rest but we don’t embrace it because we’re hypnotized by the spiritual forces that have created the darkness that overwhelms our soul. 
Listen to me: THAT’S NOT WHO WE ARE! 

We are the people of a better hope. As the psalmist continues, “Put your hope in God, for I will praise him, my Savior and my God!” Stop with the striving to prove something that’s already been established in the heavens. And for heaven’s sake (literally), don’t allow yourself to be deceived. Don’t allow the hope of your soul to be crushed by the profiteering manipulations of the agenda machine. There’s nothing good there, only bondage. There’s nothing of life there, only destruction. There’s nothing hopeful there, only despair. 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” 

That’s who you are. You are the firstfruits of heaven. You are a part of the church of the first born. You are an heir to the throne. That’s the hope that should be driving your soul. That’s the hope that should be dominating your spirit. That’s the hope that should be overflowing from your life. 
So, my question for you today is this. Are you Andy or are you Red. Do you think hope is a foolish thing in this present darkness. Or do you think hope is that thing that can never be taken away from you?

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