In the film The Shawshank Redemption, banker Andy Dufresne is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary, despite his innocence. The film powerfully portrays the brutal prison life that Andy endures, the persecution he faces from his fellow inmates, and the agonising injustice that hangs over him.
Despite all of this, during the twenty years that Andy is incarcerated, he never loses hope that he will one day be vindicated and regain his freedom. He shares this hope with the friends he makes and tries to convince them that there is more to life than the walls and bars that surround them. Some of the inmates have been there so long that they have lost hope, and are so institutionalised that they cannot imagine a world outside of the prison.
After two decades in prison Andy finally escapes, after years of meticulous planning and incredible perseverance. He flees to Mexico and starts a new life on the Pacific coast – a stunningly beautiful place. He is joined a few years later by his good friend Red, who is released on parole. The main theme of the film is hope. Andy has hope of a different life, freedom from imprisonment, suffering and injustice, and this sustains him through the darkest and most horrendous times.
As Christians we have the hope of a new and eternal life free from suffering. God has given us an escape plan from the high walls and bars that keep us trapped in a world with no hope. He has provided us with a route to freedom from sin and suffering, as long as we trust him to lead us and accept that we need to be rescued. His rescue mission was planned long before Jesus came to earth, and he sent his son to save all those who believe in him.
– The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners Isaiah 61:1
Life can be very difficult and we can face times of darkness, hardship and suffering. It can be easy to lose hope, and become too focused on our immediate surroundings and circumstances. However, at the centre of the Gospel is the message of hope. It is the greatest hope, and is founded on the promise that we can be saved from this world and have an eternity with God in heaven.
– Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
– We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19
– Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Andy Dufresne shared his hope with those around him, and we are also told to share God’s message of hope. It is too good to keep secret. This hope is available to everyone, and no matter what a person may have done in the past, God is powerful to forgive and bring hope for a new life.
– Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17
– That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10
One of Andy’s quotes from the film is “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” The hope that we have in Christ will never die because it was raised to life when Jesus conquered death and was resurrected.
– Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3
– But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
Our hope is certain and will never fail. It is a hope that brings life in all its fullness. Unlike Andy Dufresne, our hope relies not in our own plans and efforts, but in the God’s master plan to save mankind.
The Shawshank Redemption is only a movie, but certain parallels can be drawn with the gospel and it does provide some powerful illustrations. Pray that God will reveal to you the extent of the real hope he has given you through the most important redemption story of all time.
Image Credit: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)