By Christine Caine –
Hope is unshakeable confidence in God. It doesn’t deny the reality of our pain, but it does give us a life beyond our pain. It gives us permission to believe in a new beginning. It is the happy and confident expectation of good that lifts our spirits and dares us to believe for a different future. It is always looking to God with expectation: “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you” (Psalm 39:7).
But when we lose hope, when all we feel is the pain of loss and disappointment, it can be so hard to believe that God wants to help us, or that he cares, because we have more questions than answers. More doubt than faith. And yet, that is the perfect time to become a prisoner of hope.
A prisoner of hope sounds like an odd thing to be, doesn’t it? Aren’t prisoners locked up in high-security institutions and stripped of all their freedoms? Why would we want to be characterized as a prisoner of anything, even hope?
Because being a prisoner of hope in God is different. God’s prisoners of hope aren’t forced into an institution for punishment but invited into a fortress for safety. Imagine a castle that stands firm even when the very foundations of life are shaken. A place created just for us, where we can chain ourselves to the promise that God is working all things for our good, even when all things are falling apart. From the high tower of this fortress, we prisoners of hope gain a whole new perspective. We can look beyond our unexpected circumstances to the future, trusting that God has good things in store for us.
When I first learned to think and live this way, it was revolutionary to me. I was raised in a religious tradition that never encouraged me to expect good things from God. In fact, it was considered presumptuous to even imagine that God had time for my requests, given that he had an entire world to run. I’m so glad I discovered in his word that God is good, God does good, and God wants to do good for me — all the time. But to keep my heart and mind thinking and believing this way on a daily basis doesn’t come naturally; instead, it’s always a choice, one I have to make again and again.
Here’s another way to think about this choice. When the unexpected strikes, we find ourselves perched on a thin precipice with an abyss on either side. That’s when we have a decision to make. We can choose to fall into the abyss of despair on one side, or into the abyss of hope on the other. Both look like scary choices, but when we choose to fall into hope we soon find ourselves wrapped in the arms of a loving God — a God who always catches us and always promises to carry us from the precipice of despair into the wide-open space of new life. That’s where we find the new opportunities and experiences that get us beyond our disappointments and disillusionments. It is a place of freedom where we let go of what we once wanted in exchange for what we never expected — a new adventure. But we can’t get there by ourselves. Only God can catch and carry us into the new life we never imagined and take us to places we never considered going.
Becoming a prisoner of hope doesn’t mean we no longer struggle with disillusionment or despair. When the unexpected strikes and gives us new reasons to lose hope, it’s still tempting to dig a tunnel out of our fortress, to escape hope and lose ourselves in doubt, fear, and unbelief. I cannot tell you how many times I almost lost hope that we would see people rescued at A21 – our organization that works to fight human trafficking – or that traffickers would be caught and prosecuted and sentenced. There were times I wondered if I would have the ability to parent my girls with wisdom. Or if I would get free from the pain of my past. The list is endless.
In each and every endeavor, I had to chain myself once more to the God of all hope. As we launched our ministry initiatives, people who said they would stay, left. People who were supportive at one stage dropped out in the next. Doors slammed shut. Governments changed policies. But I have learned to walk by faith and not by sight. To close my eyes, proclaim myself a prisoner of hope, and step into a spiritual fortress — to dare to get my hopes up and keep my hopes up. I’ve seen God step in and carry me to better places, present me with better opportunities, and lead me into amazing breakthroughs.
When we are tempted to escape but choose instead to run into our stronghold Jesus, he promises to overflow our lives with hope: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). He promises to help us become the prisoners of hope he’s called us to be so we can move beyond despair and into a new destiny.
Christine Caine is an Australian born, Greek blooded, lover of Jesus, activist, author, and international speaker. She and her husband, Nick, founded the global anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign. They also founded Propel Women, an organization designed to activate women to fulfill their God-given passion, purpose, and potential. Taken from Unexpected by Christine Caine © 2018 by Christine Caine. Used by permission of Zondervan (zondervan.com).