"Hope is a dangerous thing, my friend, it can kill a man..."
"Hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things. And good things never die."
If you don't recognize this quote, you need to stop reading this article and go watch The Shawshank Redemption right now. Trust me, you won't regret it. It's a beautifully told tale of redemption (go figure), friendship, and hope. Seriously, it's one of the 10 best movies ever made. Tell your dad you want to watch it, he'll be thrilled!
In the scene in question, Morgan Freeman's Otis "Red" Redding is speaking to Tim Robbins' Andy Dufresne in the first line. They're both inmates at Shawshank State Prison, and Red is suggesting to Andy that the hope of release or escape will drive a man mad, as it's immensely unlikely to come true. Andy disagrees.
Andy, in a mildly cheesy but still moving turn of phrase, argues that "hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things. And good things never die." He's spot on about hope here; it is a good thing, perhaps the best of things. Hope keeps us going. Hope is the manifestation of our belief that God is in control and will use all things for His purposes.
Perhaps the most prolific writer of all time on this subject is Saint Paul. I want to draw your attention to two of his best writings on hope. Firstly, from his magnum opus: the Letter to the Romans. "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)."
This is why we hope. We hope because we, as Christians, know that God is in control. Jesus has, in fact, taken the wheel. All things do indeed work for good for those who love God. For those who are called. Even if you don't consider yourself a Catholic, you're reading this for some reason! In some small way, you're being called.
The other passage I want to draw your attention to is the most prolific reading at weddings (and likely always will be): 1 Corinthians. This is the "Love is patient, love is kind" reading. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, St. Paul ends the passage by saying, "So faith, hope, love remain, these three." I believe that he's saying that all we need to live a joyful, Christ-centered life is these three things.
Alright, I've been talking about hope for a while without telling you why. So, why? Why bring this up now? Well, if it ain't obvious, allow me to clue you in. There's a lot of reasons that hope might be hard to come by right now. We are seeing a big surge of Covid cases, for starters. Some schools are moving to short-term virtual learning, and that's scary!
On top of this, there's the fallout from the election. While most major news outlets have projected a winner, we're facing a likely lengthy process of court challenges and discussions about alleged voter fraud and the like. Again, that's scary! This has been a contentious election, and the fact that it may drag out even longer is not a happy thought.
Clearly, there are reasons that some of us may be tempted to lose hope. That's okay. Temptation is a part of all of our lives. As I said in a previous blog post, the devil loves times of strife and difficulty because it's when we're at our weakest. And he's really good at his job of tempting us to despair. But, as I've also said before, God is infinitely better at His job.
Hope is not something we should forsake during times like these. On the contrary, hope is what allows us to weather these storms! Without hope, all is lost. Without hope, we are just like Red from The Shawshank Redemption. We become empty, hollow shells of ourselves. Even worse, we can even discourage others from hope like Red does with Andy.
Hope is a dangerous thing, but not to everyone. Hope is dangerous to those who sow fear and distress. Hope is dangerous to the naysayers, the rabble rousers, and those who want us to believe that the world and those who inhabit it are not fundamentally good. Yes, hope is dangerous. But it's dangerous like the Cross.
One of the reasons that the Jewish authorities wanted Jesus crucified was that He undermined their authority. If there's someone here who can heal the sick with a word, command nature itself, and forgive sins, what do the people need us Pharisees for, right? Jesus is the physical, incarnate embodiment of hope.
And so they crucified Him, and everyone thought that was the end. We, of course, know that it was not. The Cross, seemingly the darkest moment the followers of Christ could have imagined, worked for good for those who loved God and were called according to His purpose. Sounds like Saint Paul knew what he was talking about!
And so, even in these dark times, let us not lose hope. Let us remember that all of these things, no matter how terrible they may seem, are working together for the good of those who love God (that's us, hopefully). I don't know how. My guess is you don't either. But neither did those at the foot of the Cross. Look how it worked out for them! In my book, that's good company to be in.
Continue to pray for unity and peace in our country, no matter who you voted for. Remember that humble victory and charitable defeat are good ideals to strive for. Also, stay safe out there with these rising virus cases. Take proper precautions, and be charitable to each other. We will come out of this storm. You have God's Word on that.
God bless you,