Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

Prisoner of HopeWhat makes one person a prisoner of hope, while another is mired in hopelessness?

My “one word” for 2017 is hope, so I’m especially attuned to this word this year. And the subject came up again during a recent lunch with a friend. She asked me how to become a “prisoner of hope,” a phrase used in Zechariah 9:12. How is it some people live in hope, while others—try as they might—continually default to a dismal state of hopelessness?

As she asked her question, my first thought was, I don’t know. After all, every person is unique and their reasons for hope or hopelessness could be equally unique. But before I could answer, another thought surprised me even as the words traveled to my tongue.

The Wrong Object?

I believe the answer lies in the object of our hope. For those who have given up hope, it may be because they placed their hope in the wrong object. All too often, I hear people say things such as:

  • I hope I get a raise.
  • I hope the cancer is healed.
  • I hope _______ (fill in the blank).

Problem is, in each of these (and similar) situations, the object of their hope is the desire they seek. If their desire is unfulfilled on more than one occasion, they can easily default to a perspective of hopelessness. Even for Christians, we can fall into the trap of hoping in the gift instead of the Giver.

But consider what happens when we place our hope in God, Himself. The more we understand His nature, the more we realize He is always at work for His glory and our good. No matter what the outcome—whether we receive what we want or not—it will always be for the best, even if we can’t see it now.

So the answer to the question as to why some people are “prisoners of hope” while others are mired in hopelessness might be simpler than we think. If we hope in the thing we want, we’ll be disappointed on a regular basis. But if we hope in the Giver—the One who is both our heavenly Father and Savior, we will always be satisfied.

Perhaps this is a simplistic approach to hope.

Or perhaps we try too hard to complicate the word.

What do you think?

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  1. Suzann H Zoltner

    Ava, this is so true. What a blessing you are. Your insight is spot on.

  2. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Suzann!

  3. Geoff watson

    I am walking in the darkness of the valley presently. As much as I agree with your sentiments, I find unbelief challenges belief way too often.
    The gift and the giver- yes a critical distinction- it is when we are suffering that our faith is tested.
    Ava, pray that I might be strengthened in my hope. Really, It’s a matter of knowing God for who he is. I’ve been reading 1 Peter recently- He speaks of experiencing an inexpressible joy in tribulation. That’s hope!

  4. Ava Pennington

    I’m so sorry for the valley you’re experiencing, Geoff. I do pray you will, indeed, know “inexpressible joy in tribulation” – not because the joy results from tribulation, but because it results from knowing the One to whom you belong. And nothing – no matter how difficult the experience or how deep the valley – can snatch you from His hand. Yes, that’s true hope!

  5. Cathy

    1982 I placed my hope in Jesus Christ and asked for something. Something happened in 1987 and guaranteed me that I would not receive what I asked for. That day I promised Jesus that I still loved him, place my hope in Him, asked Him to guide me in His perfect love. So very hard to trust and hope in him when in such a dark time in my life. Fast forward 5 years, my prayers were answered His way. Soooo perfect! Trust him and place your hope in Him not the object as you said. Thank you for all you write.

  6. Ava Pennington

    Cathy, your experience is a precious example of trusting the Lord by trusting His timing. Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Evie

    Ava, you are so right! Our hope can only be in God and He will take care of everything else!! His answer may not be how we thought it should be, but on the other side we will know why He answered His way!!!

  8. Pam

    Awesome Ava! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thea Williams

    Beautiful stuff as always, Ava. Thanks for sharing@

  10. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Thea.

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