Shawshank Redemption is probably my favorite movie of all time. I love the idiosyncrasies of the characters and the way they are developed throughout the movie, as well as the multitude of subplots weaving their way throughout the entire movie. If you haven’t seen it, the basic story is that of a man, Andy Dufresne, wrongly accused of murder, thrown into Shawshank Prison, and the battles, both literal and figurative, he fights while there. “Red,” the nickname of Andy’s best friend on the inside, and Andy have a discussion in one scene about having hope. Andy argues that hope is the most important thing that one can cling to in prison, because it reminds us “that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s…there’s somethin’ inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. It’s yours.”
Red is not having it. His reply is, “Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You’d better get used to that idea.” I’m not sure about you, but there are many days when I feel like I’m imprisoned…not by stone and bars, but by my thoughts, fears, insecurities, the madness of the world in which we live, my sin. Some days I feel trapped by it all, and in those moments, sadly, it is far too easy for me to lose hope, to throw my hands up in despair and wonder where the purpose is in it all. Toward the end of the movie (spoiler alert), Andy is out of prison and writes to Red saying, “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.”
While not at all religious in context of the movie, these are great words to apply in our Christian walk. We see this concept explained by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” They were afflicted, stressed, endangered to the point where they wanted to give up, but they found their hope in the future promised to them by God. They pressed on with the constant and unbreakable hope that there was more.
Peter shares a similar message by stating, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV). One of the things I appreciate most about Jesus is that He tells us upfront we are going to experience trials and troubles in this life. There is no bait and switch. He lays it all out, but gives us reason to have hope through it all.
Whatever it is you may be going through right now, stay focused on the person of Christ and the hope He provides. Hope will pull you through. Hope will give you peace. Hope will bring you courage and strength. I pray this week that you will allow hope to fill your life.