Isaiah 22 discusses the attitude of the Israelites, during a time of tribulation. They have no confidence in God’s providence nor fear of His judgement. Without the hope of a future, temporal or eternal, their only sane choice is to say “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die!”
We meet so many young men that feel the same way. Many live on the streets in poverty, with broken families, broken schools and broken government systems. They have lost hope that their neighborhoods and their lives will be restored, they have little hope of an education, a decent job, or even longevity. Worse yet they have no eternal perspective because they have not yet taken Jesus into their hearts. I took this prayer request from a young man two weeks ago and the harsh reality of his perspective shocked me. “Pray that I make it to see 21” is the prayer of a young man from a violent upbringing who has lost all hope. His father is a gang leader who has drawn him into ‘the game,’ and now society dismisses him as another broken, worthless, and incarcerated nobody. With this perspective he is a shoo-in to reoffend, to continue to hurt others until someone hurts him with finality.
This is the work of unCUFFED ministries: hope restoration. We work with a young man like this to show him that it is possible for him to live a long and meaningful life. We show him that he is valued by us and by God. We dream with him of completing his education, withdrawing from the criminal life he has chosen, getting a decent job, engaging in a long term monogamous relationship, caring for children and someday grandchildren as a bright light in his family and community. Even more so we preach the gospel of hope and the promise of eternity with a loving celestial Father.
This young man is being held because has done something wrong, he is deserving of incarceration for the actions he has admitted and may receive a lengthy sentence but still he has value and has the right to hope and dream. Last week he updated his prayer request to “Pray that I make it to a (sic) old age and enjoy life.” It’s a first step in the hard work of hope restoration.