A Prison of Hope
“Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;”
“Ye prisoners of hope”. I read this verse just recently in my devotions. I'd never thought of 'hope' as possibly being a ‘prison’ before. It was a concept that interested me. Usually, if I would ever think of hope, especially in comparison to a prison, I would naturally assume it lied outside of the prison walls. Maybe like the light that shines through the cell window, or the lingering distant escape from something. Like our future escape from our present reality. Hope should feel like the light at the end of the tunnel...right? Yes, but not always. Hope can be a prison of its very own. Sometimes God asks us to hope for something, and that very hope can actually feel like a heavy burden, a cross to bear, or in this case, a prison. Sometimes, it hurts to hope. It cuts deep into our insecurity and vulnerability. The pain of an absolute, declarative “no” would often times feel more gracious than His, “maybe, wait and see”. Having an unanswered desire can feel more difficult to bear sometimes, than a direct answer. Hope can be painful. Especially when it involves someone else.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”
The truth is, our hearts are afraid of being sick. Hope feels open and vulnerable and risky. It is easier not to hope at all, than the fear of being made sick by it. Our hearts are sensitive and fragile. We fear disappointment. We fear rejection. We fear heartaches. But the Lord doesn’t advocate us to fear in this way. We are to fear Him, certainly, but He tells us to “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) He tells us in I John 4:18 that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
Sometimes He asks us to hope, even when it hurts to. Sometimes He asks us to hope against hope. And sometimes He will even reveal a specific future promise and then require us to hope in Him for its fulfillment. Our hopes can take all different forms. They are unique and personal to each of us. Some cannot even be shared with others.
Some “prisons of hope” are merely rotting structures of selfish. Sometimes they are caused by our own foolish making. Not all “hope” in our hearts is by any means “spiritual” or should be nurtured as such. The Bible tells us that our hearts are deceitfully wicked. We need to seek the Lord in honesty and complete surrender as to what hopes He’s allowed or not. Sometimes in our prisons of hope, He never actually intended us to be there in the first place and has already unlocked and opened the door for our escape and we are too busy wallowing in our own self-pity to walk out.
Dear heart, do you find yourself trapped inside a “prison of hope”? I would like to encourage you. Jesus knows the hope you feel.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
He was in “all points tempted like as we are”. You are not alone. He cares about the state of your heart. He understands what it is to feel the pain of a heartache. He cares when you feel trapped by a prison of hope. He sees when your heart takes off hoping, even without your mental consent to do so. Sometimes we can’t help hoping. And that is okay. I John 3: 20 says, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”
We have a safe place to turn. Jesus is greater than our hearts. But I would encourage you to examine your heart, to examine your prison of hope. It is honestly a place the Lord has allowed you to be in? Has He asked you to hope there? If not, we must surrender that hope. We must ask Him to take all our hope, all our desire, and replace it with His best and perfect will for us. His will is never something to fear. He is love. He delights to give us the desires of our hearts, but only when He knows that that desire will not hurt us. Love cannot allow that. Love must always provide through the best possible. And if you are in a place, a prison that Jesus has asked you to hope in, then take heart, my friend, and trust Him.
Zechariah 9:12 said, “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;”
In our prison of hope, we have a strong hold that we are commanded to turn to. And that strong hold is Jesus.
“But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.” (Psalms 94:22)
“The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” (Nahum 1:7)
“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.” (Psalms 71:3)
“For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.” (Psalms 71:5)
Jesus is there in the dear hopes of our hearts, as well as in our deep heartaches. I remember when I discovered for the very first time what it truly meant to feel literal physical pain from a heartache. It no longer was a “term” I’d heard, but a reality in my life. And Jesus was there. Holding me. Comforting me. He eased the pain. And He gave me Psalms 69:32-34, “…and your heart shall live that seek God. For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners. Let the heaven and earth praise him….”
The heart that seeks Him shall live. We can abide in a place of hope, because He is our hope. He is faithful. We can trust Him with our hearts. We do not have to fear disappointment from Him.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” (Psalms 42:5)
“And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” (Psalms 39: 7)
Is your soul cast down? Hope thou in God. He is our help. He is our refuge. He is our stay. We can trust Him with our hope.
“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6:18-20)