What 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?