We are passing through days of much gloom and darkness. The newspapers are full of dark tidings, which move us to pain and sorrow. The recent weather related calamities, which carried away thousands to their deaths, have left the survivors with scarcely a wish to live. Loved ones were destroyed before their eyes.
Yes, indeed in many countries days of awful gloom are upon people. Yet, in the midst of it all, when you know Jesus as your Saviour, Lord and friend, an unbounded hope characterises your thoughts and actions.
Thus we come across a strange and startling phrase in scripture. "Ye prisoners of hope." Zech. 9:12. A prison cell inspires little hope. But this is a different sort of confinement. Here you are shut in with hope. You are surrounded by the promises of God.
There must be a time of discipline and even chastening in every persons life but all the time it must be remembered that it is only a season of preparation for great things. You are held in check for a season, to inherit great blessings.
Great hopes and plans for Gods work does not just fall upon us. Personal ambitions of a selfish nature and longings for fame and money evolve out of our natural mind. So many men spend the greater part of their lives chasing shadows. At last they turn sour and get peevish or disgruntled. By then life and youth would be gone and the disabilities of old age limit their usefulness greatly.
But true repentance for sin and genuine turning to the Saviour, opens new horizons, such as one can hardly imagine.
John Bunyan who has found an enduring niche in English literature as the author of "Pilgrims Progress", was once profoundly shocked, when one of the vilest characters in Bedford, suddenly looked at him and rebuked him for his foul language. It came as a great surprise to John Bunyan that a character known to be ungodly deemed that she to be better than him.
Yes, John Bunyan was very poor, scarcely making a miserable living from his trade as a tinker, patching pots and pans. But when he got converted, although he was an uneducated man, his life was projected into a great usefulness.
His twelve years in Bedford prison, for having preached at unauthorised meetings, or conventicles as the British Govt. of that day called them, were turned to good account. The book he wrote in prison has found its place in history as the book which has sold more copies than all books, save the Bible. His lucid and expressive language of small native English words is looked upon as a work of art.
Then also his prison warders gave him freedom to go in and out as he pleased so the prison was hardly a prison to him.
His life was so transformed after his conversion that his fame spread to many places.
God says, "Ye prisoners of hope, I will give you double of what you had before." A sick mind, which is preoccupied with material things, is a such mind. You can simply grow sick by brooding over your bankbook. But God helps us to pile up riches which last for into many generations. The riches of faith and inexhaustible riches of love.
Now, God blesses our labours and the produce of our fields, when we trust Him and obey Him. It is simply tragic that thousands of farmers have lost their harvest and their seed grain. Oh that they would turn to the Saviour who can make them possess double and give them the glorious hope of sure admittance to heaven by cleansing through His blood. "My hope is in thee" cries the psalmist. Now we must take stocks of our prospects and our position before God. What are our hopes and expectations? There are several who are so beaten up that hopes and expectations have left them. They have fears and worries only. Continual fears of failure, loss and death dog them.
When our hope is in the Living God, then there is quite a possibility that faith increases in our hearts, our hope will grow as big as our knowledge of God. It is quite staggering to think that our hope can grow as wide and vast as our great God. A positive frame of mind then begins to dominate us. New hopes surge in our souls, such as we never had before. The longing to be a part in some concrete way in bringing millions of souls to Jesus grips us.
We look too much on the situation and not on God, who can upturn tables in the twinkling of an eye and change completely circumstances that offer no hope. The assessment of the political commentator and the journalist weigh much more with men than the word of God. The word of God makes us to hope. The journalist paints, a stark and striking picture. "There is little hope," he says, "Take it easy for our worst fears will be upon us shortly." What bleak predictions proceed from the press? But the man who makes Jesus his Lord, can cry from the depths of the darkest valley, "Thou art my hope O lord, Thou art my trust from my youth."Ps.71:5
Christ gives us hope even in death. A converted man can tell his children even as the cold hand of death is enfeebling his voice, "Children be sure to turn to Jesus, from your sins and meet me in heaven." Thus even in death the hope of a converted man soars.
I went out to pray one evening on a hill, which overlooked a large residential suburb of a communist city in Europe. As I prayed, looking over the lights of the city, suddenly it struck me that there were dying patients in the hospitals of that city, to whom Christ cannot be presented. As the atheistic authorities do not permit such activity, it moved me much to think that even when these patients are poised on the brink of Eternity, they were denied the great comfort and hope which Christ brings. The faces of the citizens wore a weary, tired, hard look. Hope had gone out of them. Their sullen, unsmiling countenances were a torture to watch. There were "Prisoners without hope". One man there sadly said to me, "I may be only permitted to visit outside this country when my mother dies in the West. Even then I may be refused permission to attend her funeral. It is many years now since I have seen her." No hope! What a crushing weight that is!
The Bible speaks of Abraham as "One who against hope, believed in hope". Yes, what a victory he saw when he trusted in God.
What are our hopes for this New Year? "More holiness give me, more strength to overcome, more patience in suffering, more sorrow for sin, more faith in my Saviour, more sense of His care, more joy in His service, more purpose in prayer." Is this our hope? I shall be like Jesus. "More and more like Jesus till I see Him face to face." Then great things can be expected.
Let none of my readers say, "No, it is impossible, I cannot be lifted from my gloom and my resentment. No, I am a prisoner to my passion and pride, to my unbridled tongue and hasty temper." The Lord Jesus died to release you and make you a prisoner of hope, an inheritor of a twofold blessing.
Let the light that streams from the Cross, flood you and banish your gloom. There is no hope like the hope that fills the heart of a repenting sinner, when he looks at the Saviours bleeding side and outstretched arms. Come now, dear reader and let your darkness be turned into light, your heaviness into singing.
Jesus has brought us hope, which only increases as the days go by.
"My hope is built on nothing less."
-- Joshua Daniel
---taken from Christ is Victor Magazine