And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13
You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. Job 11:18
As I read these passages and began to think about hope, my mind wandered in the direction of the movie The Shawshank Redemption. And seeing how it’s been a while since I posted anything movie related, I figured why not go with it. As with any great movie, there are many subplots that develop throughout the movie bringing depth to characters and giving the audience reason to pause and reflect. There was a particular scene in the movie that triggered in my mind as I meditated on hope. It’s a line from the letter that Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) wrote Red (played by Morgan Freeman). Andy has escaped from the prison and left instructions for Red to find a particular location if he were to ever get out. So with that line echoing in my mind, I thought I’d research it online to see what the movie tells us about hope. What I found was that the hope subplot actually starts earlier in the movie.
Andy was put into solitary confinement for broadcasting a song over the prison PA system. Once out of “the hole,” he and Red talk about the power of music…
Andy Dufresne: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.
Andy Dufresne: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.
Andy Dufresne: Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
Red: What’re you talking about?
Andy Dufresne: Hope.
Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.
Red’s comment about hope is true when you leave your hope in the natural. I imagine that a man incarcerated for decades would be more comfortable abandoning his hope. Seeing the sun shine gives us a strong desire to bask in its warmth and light. Imagine how hard it must be to see the sun shine knowing that you can never step into it. In time, you can come to the conclusion that it’s best to simply convince yourself that there is no sun and be content in the cold, dark places of life. For some, this may be an effective short term coping mechanism. For others like Red, it has become their reality.
I think that a life void of hope would be uninspiring at best. It is a life that certainly stands in opposition to our nature. As a creation, we strive for something more, something bigger and with higher levels of purpose because we know deep down that we were created for something greater. The Bible clarifies this longing for us. Because we were made in God’s image, we possess an awareness that there are greater things which await us – greater things toward which we are headed. To deny ourselves the comfort that comes from this basic truth by removing hope from our lives will leave us unfulfilled and searching for deeper meaning in places where none exists. This is why people turn to quick fixes, impulsive decisions and other vices as an alternative to maintaining their hope in their all-powerful God.
It’s a process, but we can change our paradigms to reacquire the desire for hope. You know this from your own life and experiences. At some point, you’ve known the feeling of hopelessness. Thankfully, God never abandoned the hope He has for you. He stood by, patiently and lovingly providing you with what you needed to return back to that place of safety and security in Him. Andy Dufresne does something similar for Red in the letter awaiting him after his parole.
“Dear Red. If you’re reading this, you’ve gotten out. And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don’t you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I’ll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy.”
Andy knew that the day might come that Red would be released, and out of love and care for his friend, he made him an offer to join him. In part, it was to prevent Red from meeting the same demise as Brooks – another long time prisoner who committed suicide after parole because he couldn’t readjust to society. But beyond that, it was Andy maintaining the hope he had in his friend to regain a thirst for something greater in his life. There was no guarantee that Red would get out. No assurance that he’d remember the location of that field where the note was left. No reason to assume that Red would travel across a continent to join him. But Andy not only made the invitation and provided the funding – he offered him a hope for something new, something better than he’d ever known.
What is God bringing into your life? Things are coming into focus, aligning themselves to bring you abundance beyond your expectations. You may or may not yet know what all of those things will look like, but we know they are coming and they will be good.
Similarly, Red left on his voyage without much knowledge of the future. What’s more, the movie ends without us ever finding out exactly what happens. But despite the lack of knowledge, Red’s final thoughts leave us with what we need to know…
Red: [narrating] I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.
Hope in the Lord that He will complete in you the work that He has started. Hope that you will find answers to your questions, solutions to your problems, and delights to fill your days as a dearly loved child of God.