Hope; November 21, 2022

Zechariah 9:12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

It seems like I write on this verse every time we hit this chapter in reading. However, there’s plenty to meditate on in this verse! Verse 9 is more famous, since it was directly referenced as being fulfilled by Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, (Matthew 21:4) but no part of the Bible is meaningless, and God can use it to speak to us. I have liked this verse for two reasons, the first of which being the reference to hope. English translations like “prisoners of hope,” which is a striking image, but the Japanese says, “prisoners who have hope.” I think the point is that regardless of our circumstances and however much we feel trapped by them, we aren’t to lose hope. Of all the things the devil tries to steal, kill, or destroy, hope is one of his favorites. Hope is actually essential to human life. It has been demonstrated in several studies that hope has a massive influence on medical outcomes. A lack of hope destroys motivation in virtually every situation. As it says in Proverbs, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12) The second thing I like in this verse is of course the promise of double restoration. If you’ve never lost anything of importance to you this might not have much impact, but I think very few people are in that boat. Actually, Jesus upped the ante by a wide margin in talking to His disciples. “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29) Of course the key there is “for my sake.” Simply losing something doesn’t guarantee we’ll get it back, much less get it back multiplied. The point is our priorities. If things “go by the wayside” because we’re clinging to and being obedient to Jesus, then the rewards are essentially limitless. They may not come in this life, but they are certain!

Since I teach budding medical professionals, I am very careful to talk about how they are to talk around patients. They aren’t to lie, but they are to be careful not to destroy hope. As a pastor I do a lot of hospital visitation, and in both the US and Japan I have seen and heard medical staff say horrible things around patients that made me want to take them out and smack them! As I’ve already said, hope is of great importance in good medical outcomes, and such outcomes are supposed to be their job! As a son of missionaries and a missionary myself I know about “giving up houses and lands,” but I have complete assurance that my parents have been more than rewarded, and that I will be as well. My mother said that her only real sacrifice in coming to Japan was distance from her family, but even there, we can gain so many “family” members as brothers and sisters in Christ. I have sons and siblings that are certainly not “blood kin!” Just last night there was a joyful reunion between my two genetic daughters and a brother and sister they hadn’t seen in many years. Such things are a reminder that my reward is sure, and I don’t have to be anxious about anything.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You also for how well everything went yesterday. You did work magnificently. Help me learn better how to rest, relax, and rejoice in you, just as my younger daughter was urging me to do yesterday – several times! Thank You for Your plans for today, and for the days and weeks ahead. May I not miss anything You have planned for me by a lack of either hope or gratitude, so that You may be glorified. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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