Prisoners of Hope

I recently did a children’s sermon on the word “hope” and used it as an acronym to explain what it means. I said that hope is wanting something to get better. So we can have HOPE when we remember that there are always (H)elpers who will come alongside of us when we are in trouble. And if we remain (O)pen to seeing what God is doing all around us, it can help us to realize that God is working for good in our situation. Of course, HOPE comes to us when we (P)ray, and we should always (E)xpect that God is listening to us and will answer in his time, because his Word promises exactly that. That’s hope!

As I’ve been following the lectionary in these daily devotionals, it has been amazing to see how many times the assigned passage has spoken directly into the pandemic that continues to rage on. Today’s passage does not disappoint.

But I also want you to think of places in your life where you are lacking hope. Perhaps your job situation or your business is crumbling around you. Maybe your marriage or a relationship is in trouble. A challenging child or your teenager might be a dark place for you today. The prospect of remote learning this school year may be getting you down. Or maybe a betrayal or argument has kept you up at night.

Whatever is going on in your life that has left you feeling hopeless, this scripture is for you:

Zechariah 9 (New Revised Standard Version)

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Does that sound like Jesus? Zechariah was an Old Testament prophet, proclaiming the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. With New Testament hindsight, we can see Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in this passage.

10 He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

As Christian readers, we see a prefiguring of Christ’s second coming in this verse. We all long for the day when Christ’s dominion will rule the earth and his peace will be known in every nation. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

11 As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
    I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
    today I declare that I will restore to you double.

Here’s where it gets personal. You have a blood-covenant relationship with Christ if you are part of his flock. He is active right now in setting you free from the waterless pit of your despair. So return to your stronghold of looking for helpers, opening your heart to God’s activity, praying without ceasing, and expecting God to restore you. Hope is your stronghold. Cling to that.

In times of great distress, God calls us to be prisoners of hope. May we never let go of that chain.

Hope’s Still Water by Jamie Mathis

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