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Prisoners of Hope
Victoria Boyson
www.boyson.org

There are times, while waiting for the birth of your destiny, that you feel as though you would like to give up hope, but God will not let you. It feels as though you are held captive by hope.

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

There are times during the development of your dream when your hope seems to have turned into a prison. You cannot make your dreams come true, and yet you find it impossible to stop believing in them. You cannot go forward any faster than God will let you, and you cannot return to where you once were before you became pregnant with the promise from God. God will not let you give up! During this time you might feel like saying, "Okay God, this is enough! I don't want to hope anymore! I am tired of being pregnant with this promise! I want out of this prison of hope!"

It is during this time that your dream feels so real to you, yet to others it does not. The conflict between what you feel in the Spirit and what is evident in the natural grates at your soul. You feel much like you are on a Ferris wheel. You have your up times when you can see your dream's fulfillment far into the future, but you also have your down time when you cannot see anything. You think to yourself, "Am I crazy to think that God would bless me?" The enemy comes in like a flood and you begin to doubt, causing anguish to your soul. This is the time when God is doing His greatest work in you.

It is Because He Loves You
You feel as though you are ready for your destiny, but once again God directs you back to the refinery for more tweaking. Oh, how weary you are of the awful refinery and that seemingly endless tweaking. "Okay, God, you can stop now," you scream, but He does not stop. You are caught in a prison of hope and He will not let you out until He is finished with what He began in you.

It is like a child who has a sliver. He does not like the pain the sliver causes him, but he hates the misery of having his sliver taken out. Removing the sliver is important, but he doesn't understand that. Even if he did, it is hard to keep still while it is being pulled out. Well, we all have spiritual slivers that we need God to take out, and sometimes it really hurts, especially when the sliver is way down deep in our heart.

This is when the refining process REALLY hurts, because He is getting down to the very core of your soul, to the deep regions of your heart. He is developing things in you that you did not know you lacked—things you did not even know you needed.

You think, "Okay, God, this is deep enough." But every builder knows you must dig down deep to lay a proper foundation first, before you start to establish the height of the structure. And the greater the height of the structure, the deeper the foundation must be.

It is God's great love for us that keeps us from entering our destiny until our foundation is secure. If He has held you back and you feel like a prisoner, He has done it out of love for you. He does not want to see all that He has worked to build in you crumble, because He did not take the time to develop a sure foundation. He loves you that much!

Even though it hurts you, He needs to hold you in the prison cell of hope until it is safe for you to come out. Even though you are sick and tired of hoping, of believing, of waiting, He will still make you hope, believe and wait even longer. And this can be the hardest thing He has asked you to do yet.

But when you feel like giving up, and yet continue to carry on, you begin to sense a strength rising in you that you did not know you possessed. And really, you did not possess it previously, because it was your reward for enduring this painful process. It is a gift from God that the enemy cannot take away from you, because you have earned it.

Held Captive by Hope
In the Word of God we can find many people who were held captive by hope; there are Moses, Joseph, and Abraham, to name a few. My favorite is David—his honesty in the face of misery draws my attention.

God had promised David that he would rule the kingdom of Israel, and Samuel had anointed him for it (see 1 Samuel 16:13). But after David had been anointed as king of all Israel, he had to go back to tending sheep. It was years before the promise came to pass for David, and he spent many of those years being chased by the man whose throne he would inherit. Back in the pasture on his father's farm, he did not envision himself hiding out in caves or pretending to be a madman in order to save his own life (see 1 Samuel 22:11). After all, God said he was going to be a king. A king does not have to do those things . . . does he?

In Psalm 119:82, David cried out to God in song and said, "My eyes fail looking for your promise." I understand the longing in his heart as he spoke those words. It feels, sometimes, as though the promise will never be fulfilled. But in fact, it was fulfilled for David, and it will be for you, too, if you do not give up.

Hopeless, No. Helpless, Yes!
Do you feel sometimes as though you are hopeless? Well, you are not without hope; you are not hopeless, but you are helpless. God has put you in a position of helplessness or complete dependency on Him, and you are helpless to help yourself. You struggle to gain some measure of control over your life, but your pride (that you did not even know you had) is being crushed during this helpless state, and the only thing for you to do is to surrender and receive God's peace. You may feel hopeless, but really it is the condition of helplessness that is causing you pain. God wants you completely dependant on Him, and He will keep you a prisoner of hope until you are.

Return to Your Fortress
Your fortress during this time is trusting in a loving God. Trust Him in spite of all the reasoning of your mind, in spite of the circumstances that surround you. You were content to give God control of your life until He decided to do something with your life you did not like. You were happy to surrender all to Him until He decided to give your promotion to someone else. You believe in His sovereignty, until His sovereign will conflicts with your will. Then you are sure He has made a mistake. You want to run from Him, but He is your refuge. How do you run from your refuge? How do you run from the only one who really loves you or understands you? The answer is . . . you don't. So, return, my friend, to your fortress and remain a prisoner until He is done with you; until He decides you are ready for all that He has for you.

What now feels like a prison cell to you, God sees as a fortress. And, of course, He is right. He loves you and if you give Him control of your life, He will guard it for you. Perhaps what feels to you like a prison cell may really be your place of safety and protection. David did not like being in a cave, but it saved him from King Saul. You may not like the circumstances you are in now, but do not run from them. They may be what is saving your life!

Double for Your Trouble
Why are we going through what we are going through? The second half of Zechariah 9:12 gives us the answer we are looking for. It says, "Even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you."

God says, "Even now I announce to you that not only will I restore to you all that has been taken from you, but I will give you double for all the trouble you have endured." He says, "Don't stop now . . . keep trusting me, because I can see your future and it is very blessed. Keep walking with me and keep trusting in me and I will give you rest in the midst of the storm."

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). When we have learned to "rest" in God in the midst of our storm, God is mightily blessed. It proves to Him that we trust in His goodness no matter what our circumstances appear like.

It pleases Him very much when we trust in Him, and when He is pleased He will burst forth blessings from heaven. He just cannot help Himself; He loves to bless those who trust in His goodness.

He, as He did for Israel in Zechariah 9:12, will stand up and announce to all that He is proud of you and intends to restore double to you for your continued trust in Him through all you have endured. And this is the beginning of your dreams coming true. Enjoy it, friend, because you have waded through the river of adversity and your heavenly Father is proud of you.

Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope.

Scriptures are from the NIV.

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