I was thinking recently about hope, with some fairly random thoughts circulating, like planetary rings, around some sort of core of specificity, but they didn’t come into focus until I was reading Lamentations this morning. The streets of Jeremiah’s Jerusalem somehow began to trigger an image of Europe’s imaginable future, a grim image set off by the mayhem of London’s recent riots. Brits are not emotional, downturn-crazed Greeks. The riots that made me wonder where Mayor Sam Yorty was when we needed him were ignited by the architects of our republic. And it made me specifically nervous. How close the push in my country is to a shove, and when the shove might come, I couldn’t bring myself to consider.
But something stayed my mind from wandering too far, a sensibility I too seldom grant landing rights. It was murky at first, like a large but flawed diamond, but I recognized the sensibility as hope. And providentially, hope was all over the pages I was reading today.
Jeremiah grieves the horrific, barbarous destruction and humiliation of his beloved city and people. In anguish he recites his lament to the God who has filled him with bitterness and made him drink wormwood (Lamentations 3:15). But then, his anguish is quickly displaced by hope. He remembers his “affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall” (v. 19). Then he comes to himself. “My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (v. 20-22). Jeremiah continues with a discourse praising God’s goodness and mercy.
Later, I was reading a book on prayer by Matthew Henry, and he was talking about God’s covenant with His people, citing Zechariah 9:12, “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” Our God of wonders — our Stronghold — makes His people prisoners of hope. Mercifully, there is no escape from hope.
I have been indifferent as non-solutions are proffered and applied to the economy, like so much paste wax, because we are too afraid to let go of failed monetarism and bear a season of acute pain until we settle into a market-driven economy. Yes, I actually live in a state of diehard hope of such a thing, but it is not a sure hope. But Russia did it, and now Russia has a sound economy, while the United States is compared to Greece and Venezuela. If pride alone gets us back on track, then good for pride.
I’ve been equally indifferent to all the campaigns and debates. Scoffers malign Ron Paul for telling the truth in a way reminiscent of the treatment received by Jeremiah the prophet, whose words came true. I have hope that Ron Paul will be President, but not a sure hope.
Our money may fail, atrocities may strike our cities, and Ron Paul most likely will never be President. There isn’t anything I can do about any of it. For prisoners of hope, the war goes on, within ourselves, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5).