Read Psalm 65.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see the happy ending, even when you know it’s coming. But when you can’t see it—that’s actually when you need it the most.
My favorite movie has long been The Shawshank Redemption. In my opinion, it is nearly a perfect film. (This is the part where I should issue a spoiler alert, but the movie’s been out for more than twenty-five years. I guess if you were going to see it, you would have seen it by now.) Andy Dufresne is an innocent man in prison for a pair of murders he didn’t commit. Robbed of his freedom, he is beaten and abused. Whatever life he had before Shawshank has been destroyed. Prison is now all he knows. It’s enough to make anyone lose hope. But not Andy.
Watching the film is like watching the most beautiful of flowers push itself up through gray concrete. It doesn’t belong there, but you can’t take your eyes off it, wondering where the little bloom is finding sunlight and water. Andy is like that flower. Even though no one watching Shawshank would ever want to trade places with him, he’s got something we’d all like to have.
In one scene, fellow inmate Red describes Andy this way: “He had a quiet way about him—a walk, a talk that just wasn’t normal. He strolled, like a man in a park without a worry or a care in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place.” Early on in his stay at Shawshank, Andy devised a plan of escape, a narrow way to freedom involving a small rock hammer, a few giant posters, and a pair of stolen dress shoes. It was this vision in his mind’s eye that kept a small ember of hope burning in Andy’s heart for decades.
Psalm 65 is a vision of new life for us, meant to give us all a spark of hope for the future, no matter how bad things may look in the present. In the psalm, God is “the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.” David describes a lush landscape, where “the streams of God are filled with water to provide people with grain…. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing” (vv. 9, 12–13). Beautiful, right?
But things were not always so bountiful. David doesn’t give us a full picture of what life was like before God’s blessings began to fill the land again, but his emphasis on water suggests there had been a drought. Talk of “sins” and “transgressions” being forgiven (v. 3) may indicate God had judged His people by withholding rainfall. The “vows” mentioned in verse 1 may be the renewal vows of a repentant people turning their hearts back toward God.
This psalm points beyond Israel to the future, when “all people will come” (v. 2). We’re meant to see a hint of the coming day when God will dwell with His people, when sin will be no more and the curse will be completely undone.
For those of us who have made our vows to the Lord and turned from our sin, this is the future. This is the reason for our hope. It’s the reason you and I can stroll through the prison yard as if it were a park. Like Andy Dufresne, we may have decades of hard times ahead of us. We may even have to crawl through filth so foul it cannot be described with words, but God promises, we will come out clean on the other side.