Prisoners of Hope

You may remember my confession last week … something to the effect that from henceforth I will stop trying to “micro manage” my happiness. At best, it can be both frustrating and time wasting, as I try to keep my assorted ducks in a proper row; on the other end of the scale, I think it borders on sin when I replace my trust in God for the never ending quest to be happy, healthy and wise.

Well, not coincidentally, I came across a passage in Zechariah this last week – God’s words to Israel in captivity- but maybe also speaking directly to me. It goes like this:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.  As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

All in all, it’s a great passage of Scripture, talking about the coming King and the covenant we have with Him. But it was that last bit that grabbed my attention; that part where the captives (Israelites back then; and by association, us today) are referred to as “prisoners of hope”.

I mean, we all understand when someone is talking about “prisoners of war” or these days, “prisoners of a virus”, and depending on your political persuasion, “prisoners of lunatics”. But what does it mean to be a “prisoner of hope”?

We continue to live in a COVID-colored world.  Today our church finally trialed it’s first service in 19 weeks.  We were nervous.  Restrictions seem to be changing daily, usually for the better, but not always. We were finally told that we could sing as a group, provided we maintained the proper distance, and save our socializing until we get out of the building.

I have to say, it was a great day, even though we had to stay vigilant. We were happy, though, because the lessening of restrictions means that things are getting better! And I was wondering this week what those pitiful Israelites, drug off once again to Babylon, had to be happy about? But look what God called them: “Prisoners of HOPE!” No matter how tough things get, God reminds them, better days are coming.

And the same is true for us. We still put up with a lot. And if it’s not viral, then it’s other health issues, financial repercussions, things that need fixing, from the car to the house to strained relationships. All these things can pile up until we almost feel like we’re headed for Babylon.

But we have hope. In fact, it’s hope based on a promise; a promise from God Himself, Who tells us, “Listen, I haven’t forgotten you and I never will. You’ve got My assurance, and that’s not going to change. Yes, you are a prisoner: a prisoner of Hope!”

That said, I guess we can decide how we’re going to feel about what’s happening around us.  I wrestle daily with my longings for my old way of life, and yet, I was encouraged today to think … and hope … about what the future might hold.  Can you ‘dream’ a bit with me? Imagine HOW God is going to turn things around in your life, write it down for future reference, then as things continue to improve, thank Him for His goodness.

Your fellow prisoner,

Marsha

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