Prisoners at Home, Still Prisoners of Hope
by Christopher C. Thompson | 27 April 2020 |
I am a prisoner in my own home.
Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama, issued a statewide stay at home order at the beginning of April. But many of us had already been working from home and limiting our engagement with groups of people since mid-March. Which means it’s actually been over a month, and I’m stir-crazy.
I exercise every day, but now I’ve started doing two-a-day workouts just to break out of the four walls of my house. A few weeks ago they said that it was the peak week for the pandemic to spread, and so we were supposed to be staying at home. But I went to Costco two days in a row. I hardly bought anything the first day—bananas and paper plates. Then I came home and realized that there was an entire list of things I needed. I didn’t mind returning the next day. I needed to get out of the house. I’m not used to sitting at home like this. I often work at home, but being forced to work at home is a different challenge altogether. I feel trapped.
My wife is tired of conference calls and video conferences. I’m tired of them, and it’s not even me that’s in the meetings! Even my son has video conferences now. He’s using my personal laptop to attend his virtual classroom with his teacher and classmates. But he spends the rest of the day devising the most artful strategies he can conceive to evade the rest of his classwork. We’re all tired of this.
We are all prisoners.
Nevertheless, the threat that looms is real, and that’s the part that compounds the stress and anxiety. I’ve been feeling a slight pain, a tightness in my chest for the last couple of weeks. I double-checked to see if these were COVID-19 symptoms. I’m relieved to find that my symptoms aren’t on the list. Am I suffering from an acute response to the increased anxiety and stress? I think we are all experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety.
We are all prisoners.
I’m bound at some point to drift back into the abyss of mind-numbing social media scrolling. I snap out of it when I realize that I’ve seen the same post from the same Facebook friend several times already. By then I’ve spent far too much time trying to dispel myths about cures to coronavirus, and arguing with people who are determined to believe that the pandemic reports are a ploy of liberals to discredit and diminish the influence of the president.
But there’s a new trending social media challenge every day it seems. An endless cycle of the same stuff rehashed and replayed by different people. It’s obvious that we are all bored.
We are all prisoners.
I spoke to a friend who told me we could easily be stuck like this for another sixty to ninety days. I don’t think I can take this. I feel trapped. We are all trapped.
Prisoners of Hope
It was at the moment when I was feeling this most acutely that I remembered a scripture that I haven’t actually read in a very long time.
“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (Zech. 9:12 NIV).
I am usually an optimistic person. I would say that faith is one of my spiritual gifts. I guess you can say that I’m blessed with optimism. I just believe that things can and will be better. I wrote about optimism here before. I still believe that faith and hope go farther than optimism ever could. They are both tied to the irrefutable, infallible, indefatigable love of a matchless God. Therefore, while I am naturally predisposed to optimism, I am also totally consumed with commitment to the concept of trust in The One who has promised better and brighter for those who demonstrate faith.
So though I’m a prisoner at home, I’m also a prisoner of hope.
For those of us who have been students of Bible prophecy for any amount of time, or even just a little suspicious that the current order of things is unsustainable, we have been anticipating the crescendo for some time. The Great Advent Hope remains a persistent pestering prison warden that demands our focused attention upon the one desired end to the anxiety-laden, fear-filled, virus-ridden experience of this present age of existence.
We are all prisoners of hope.
I had an epiphany this morning. It was at the end of my workout just as I turned the corner nearing the final stretch toward home. I realized that liberation can only be realized as the source and center of that for which we have hoped becomes a tangible, tactile, face-to-face reality. For then there will be no need to hope. Then the chains of hope will vanish and I will “know God fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).
We are still prisoners—but not for long. Look alive, my fellow inmates. “…Stand up straight and be brave. You will soon be set free” (Luke 21:28b CEV).
Christopher C. Thompson works in Huntsville, AL for the Breath of Life broadcast and ministry. He and his wife, Tracy, have one son, Christopher II.