“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”Zechariah 9:12 (ESV)
The name Zechariah means, “The Lord has remembered.”
I am reading “Unexpected,” a book written by Christine Caine. She is the founder of a global anti-human trafficking movement, A21. The book’s subtext is “Leave fear behind, move forward in faith, embrace the adventure.”
I just finished a chapter called, “When the Unexpected Disillusions: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope.” The chapter’s main theme of becoming a prisoner of hope is centered on the verse in Zechariah above. I want to share a few passages that really stood out to me.
In the chapter, Caine says, “Feelings of hopelessness can leave us wanting to pull back and rewrite the rest of our lives as a smaller, safer story than the adventurous one God originally planned for us.”
Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, our idea of what should happen doesn’t become reality, then we become disillusioned, we give up on the dream that we had, or we shutdown all future plans we were making to see that thing come to fruition. We leave the adventure behind for a ‘safer’ plan that seems more ‘realistic’ or ‘easier.’ But that is selling ourselves short. We forego the blessings and the next level that God had prepared for us.
Check out the passage prior to the that last verse I shared above. Look at what the prophet Zechariah was calling the Israelites to wait for in expectation:
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!Zechariah 9:9-12 (ESV)
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
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.
The Israelites were beaten down. They had been exiles in Assyria for centuries. When they finally were able to return, their cities were decimated. The walls were broken down. Their temples were destroyed. Their hope was broken. That was the only way to move forward. It was the only path to go on for the people.
But the prophet Zechariah called them to hope again:
Risking hope in God again—even though their confidence had been shaken—was the way forward.“Unexpected,” Christine Caine
So what does it mean to be a “prisoner of hope”? Caine breaks it down in the chapter:
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.“Unexpected,” Christine Caine
It is a spiritual fortress, a stronghold to go to when things look impossible. When things look like they are falling apart, instead of giving into the hopelessness of the situation, we can choose to hope in God, in His promises, and in His mighty power.
We don’t deny what we see. We don’t ignore the reality of the situation. But rather we know that we have a good, faithful and loving God who is greater and beyond our circumstances at that moment. We believe with full confidence in the plan that He is orchestrating for our lives. We know that despite what is going on now, God can overcome it and He has something greater and better in store for my life.
Instead of wallowing in hopeless ideations of all that we’ve lost and what has not come to pass, we can focus on what there is and on the focus who can do all things. It is a place of strength and confidence, not in my own abilities or situation, but instead a confidence in who my God is and what He can and will do. What a shift in perspective! It transforms the way you live and the lens in which you see your life and all the circumstances surrounding it.
Here are a couple more helpful tips for “prisoners of hope” from Christine Caine:
When we become prisoners of hope, we aren’t dismayed when dreams . . .
• Take longer than we think they should
• Cost more than we think they should
• Are harder to realize than we think they should be
When we become prisoners of hope, we shift our perspective. We . . .“Unexpected,” Christine Caine
• Look at what we have left, not what we have lost
• Believe the best, not assume the worst
• Keep moving forward, not shrink backward
I am only about halfway through “Unexpected” by Christine Caine and I am loving it! There are so many powerful concepts to overcoming all of life’s challenges and setbacks. There are so many unexpected things that come our way day by day, week by week, year by year, what if you had strategies for turning that unexpected disappointment into an opportunity to propel you into the greater things of God in your life.
It would make a great Christmas gift for yourself or for a friend going through a challenging time, who needs some godly encouragement.