In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” - Romans 4:18 ESV
My wife and I love to watch movies together. Just yesterday, we were watching one of our all-time favorites, The Shawshank Redemption. We loved it so much that we chose to watch it over the Rose Bowl (which was one of the more exciting games in recent memory).
The thing that we like about The Shawshank Redemption is the number of life lessons that are a part of the story. Even though we know the movie by heart, we still enjoy watching it.
One of our favorite scenes is when Andy (one of the main characters) is sitting slumped against the prison walls and Red, his friend, comes up and sits down beside him. They sit in silence for a period of time before Andy states what’s on his mind. The reason for Andy’s despair would be cause for depression for the majority of us.
You see, Andy had been falsely accused of murder and the one person that could prove his innocence had been gunned down by the crooked warden. He had spent 20 years in jail for a crime that he didn’t commit and his one opportunity to prove his innocence had been snatched from him.
Despite this, Andy still had hope. He refused to be shackled by what happened in the past and let it determine his future. He was going to maintain the mindset to break free of the things that handcuffed him (both literally and figuratively) and express that to Red.
The interesting thing was Red’s response. He told Andy that having hope was a dangerous thing and not to torture himself with possessing the hope that someday he would be free.
Let’s stop for a minute and reflect on the Andy’s mindset. How many of us would be able to maintain hope in the face of overwhelming circumstances? How many of us would still strive to achieve our goals despite the “advice” given by friends like Red (even though they have good intentions)?
Some of you reading this are dealing with situations that on the surface, are as dire as what was facing Andy. The question that I have, is how will you respond? Will you accept the handcuffs or continue to search for ways to break free?
There are times in my life that I have been close to giving up hope. I want to throw in the towel and adopt the mindset of Red. I want to feel that my situation is hopeless and there is no way out. I shouldn’t torture myself by possessing hope.
When I reached this point, I visit the scriptures and look at the examples of faith and hope exhibited by the people mentioned in the 11th chapter of Hebrews and I am encouraged.
By no means am I saying that possessing hope in overwhelming situations is as simple as picking up the Bible. I am saying that doing this is one part of the process. The other part is knowing that you have the ability to overcoming the dire circumstances based upon the things you’ve overcome in the past.
A spoiler alert for the few people that haven’t seen this awesome movie follows.
Andy was able to escape and provided inspiration for Red when he was paroled shortly thereafter. The look of sheer joy on the both of their faces when they were reunited reminds us of the feelings we experience when we maintain hope and are able to overcome negative situations.
There are 2 things that I want each of you to do. The first is look back in your past and remember the times that you were able to scale that impossible mountain in your life.
The second is to study the many examples cited in scripture of those that overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles by having faith and hope in our Father.
Doing these 2 things will have a profound effect on how you view potential negative situations in the future. You will be infused with a new energy and perspective as you tackle the challenges of life.
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.