Hope Is a Dangerous Thing

Trapped inside the caged walls of the Shawshank State Penitentiary, Red tells Andy words that might save him. “Hope is a dangerous thing,” Red says. “It can kill a man.”

Hope rattles us, terrifies even, especially if we’ve lived with our eyes and our heart wide open, especially if we’ve told ourselves the truth about the ache and the lament. One thing’s certain: if we love full throttle and don’t hold our cards close to the chest, we will absolutely face that brutal pain we’re so desperate to avoid: disappointment. Hope is a dangerous thing.

But anything that’s truly good always carries danger with it. If we’re playing it safe, no one’s having kids, no one’s getting married, no one’s going to write a book or a poem or dream of a new tomorrow or follow a carpenter who acts like he’s God. Love and hope and danger—another trinity.

“Hope is a dangerous thing, my friend, it can kill a man,” says Red. “[But] hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things. And good things never die.”

Hope intrude everywhere. Dangerous hope. Consider these tulips by our mailbox. Every Spring, they insist on this same story. They’re “hopemongers,” as my friend John likes to say. Keep loving. Keep believing. Keep hoping. Good things never die.

9 Replies to “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing”

  1. Winn,
    Thank you for writing “A Burning in my Bones!” I loved hearing you tell his story. I look forward to reading your other books, also.

    About 15 years ago we talked on the phone a couple times. I was a pastor, at that time in the Chicago area, but my main job was recruitment… helping churches find the right staff person. I enjoyed our conversations and am glad to have “found” you again.

    I now serve as a part-time associate care pastor in Charlotte, North Carolina. I look forward to staying in touch.
    With joy,

  2. Winn,
    So good to see your blog again. I was just telling my daughter/BF this same kind of thing regarding getting married (there is never a perfect time), having kids (never really ready). We step out in faith knowing it could be dangerous, but if we do not go forth courageously and wisely, we will always wonder what if… Even if the consequences of out decisions are not what we hoped for, we can still learn and move on.

  3. Wonderful words! A person cannot truly love without commitment and this commitment opens them to the very possibility of hurt! Keep writing!

  4. Winn, thank you. I love this post on hope. The tulips also remind me of prayer — especially praying for a prodigal son. Every day I pray for him — every day I pray he will return to us and Christ Jesus. I guess we could say prayer is hope with words? Or hope with power? I don’t know, but there is a thought in there somewhere.

    1. I believe we could say prayer is the assurance of what we hope for if the object of our prayer is God and our faith does not waver. We just don’t know when He will answer; prayers for a prodigal son can take 60-70 years. I’ve seen that happen and God’s timing is always perfect!

      1. This former comment was not about my son, but rather about my grandmother’s som, my uncle whom she had faithfully prayed for until she died. It was such a joy to my heart when he opened his heart to Jesus just a year before he went to join his mother in heaven. God is so good!

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