This pandemic has taken so many prisoners, and my heart is heavy for everyone who finds themselves languishing behind bars right now.
The elderly person who can’t have visitors.
The single parent who is never off the clock.
The person battling anxiety.
The person with a compromised immune system.
The person stuck at home in an abusive relationship.
The person who lives alone and feels the ache of loneliness.
Perhaps this virus isn’t responsible for our chains, but it certainly has exposed them. The truth is, we are all prisoners of something—we don’t have much choice about that. But we do have some say in what we will be enslaved to.
I came across this verse recently, and it struck me in a new way in this season of fear and quarantine:
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;Zechariah 9:12
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
Prisoners of hope. What would it look like, I wonder, to be a prisoner of hope rather than a prisoner of fear?
I want to be chained to hope.
I want to shackle myself to it and not let go.
I want it to follow me wherever I go.
The fact that hope takes prisoners implies a battle. There’s nothing passive about it. It requires courage. It’s a fight.
Faith, as I imagine it, is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words. Hope, I know, is a fighter and a screamer.Mary Oliver
Hope means choosing love, over and over again . . . and asking for forgiveness when we fail.
It means doing the next right thing.
It means getting up again.
It means believing there will be manna enough for today.
It means laying down our weapons, and sometimes our screens.
It means writing a note, making a phone call, baking a batch of cookies, playing another round of Scrabble.
It means listening for the birds and watching for the green daffodil shoots peeking out of the ground.
It means we keep living, one moment at a time. The battle has already been won.
Hope and despair stand always side by side, each determined to outlast the other. If we choose hope, we must join the standoff, with hearts and hands wide open, fighting the urge to fade into despair.Catherine McNiel