Shawshank Redemption, The
The Shawshank Redemption, R, 1994, Warner Bros.
Main Point: We must have the proper perspective in difficult times, so that by our hope we can endure.
Attention Grabber: Movie – The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption is a very powerful movie that rejuvenates the power of the human spirit in its viewers. It is about a man who is framed and sent to prison, and through his hope restores life to the convicts living there. It is a wonderful movie that uses friendship, courage, and hope to show what it is to live through the worst circumstances imaginable. The movie has a lot of swearing and some adult situations, so I would definitely not recommend it for the typical Friday night family movie, but if you have not seen it and you’re over 18, I highly recommend it.
Clip: That’s the beauty of music
This particular clip takes place in the prison cafeteria. Andy (Tim Robbins) has just returned from an extended amount of time in solitary confinement. He discusses it with the other inmates, and explains that it was music that helped him survive solitary. Red (Morgan Freeman) is skeptical of Andy’s hope, not fully understanding what good it could do at all. After all, they all have just lost their old friend Brooks, who committed suicide because he had no hope. The clip starts at 1:11:25, toward the beginning of chapter 20. Be sure to cue it up precisely beforehand, because there are a couple swear words right before this clip. The scene ends at 1:12:55, after Andy asks, “Like Brooks did?”
Today we’re talking about hope. We’re going to look at a clip from a movie called The Shawshank Redemption. The movie takes place in a prison. In this particular scene, one of the prisoners is just returning from solitary confinement. He has been stuck in a box with no windows, all by himself, for several days. Now he is joining his friends at lunch, to talk about his time in solitary. Andy will explain that hope is necessary. At the end of the clip, you’ll hear Andy mention a guy named Brooks. All the guys in the scene were friends with Brooks. Unfortunately, Brooks saw no point in living, so he committed suicide. Let’s watch this clip and try to understand what exactly hope is all about.
- ANDY: It was in here, in here (pointing to his heart). That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from ya. Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?
RED: Well I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.
ANDY: Here’s where it make the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.
ANDY: Forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made of stone. That there’s something inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
RED: (noticeably bothered) What are you talking about?
RED: Hope. Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope will drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You better get used to that idea.
ANDY: Like Brooks did?
Red leaves the table upset.
Hope is a very interesting thing. For a man like Andy, who is in prison for something he didn’t do, who ends up in solitary confinement, alone and forgotten in the dark, hope makes all the difference in the world. There are people like Andy, who keep their hope no matter what, and there are people like Red, who decide that hope is just a waste of time. In fact, many people believe that Christianity is just a false sense of hope, promising happiness and peace and eternal life, but never truly giving it. Right now we’re going to talk about our hope in our discussion groups. Let’s try to figure out what hope truly is, and if it’s even worth paying any attention to.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- ASK A FEW: What is your definition of hope?
- ASK A FEW: What is it like to have no hope?
- ASK A FEW: Tell us about a time when you felt hopeless.
- ASK A FEW: Some people believe that Christianity is just an empty feeling of hope. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
- In the book of Habakkuk, Habakkuk starts out really frustrated with God. Things are just falling apart all around him, and so he questions God.
Read Habakkuk 1:2-4:
“How long, O Lord, must I call for help
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.”
ASK A FEW: Have you ever felt like this? Like things just couldn’t get any worse, and you wonder why God hasn’t stepped in to help yet?
- ASK A FEW: Do you know anybody like this, who refuses to believe in God because of how bad things are?
- ASK A FEW: Why is it that not having hope seems to just make a situation worse?
- ASK A FEW: If you were talking to someone in this kind of situation in their life, where things just seem too horrible to survive, what would you tell them about hope? What is there to hope in?
- In Habakkuk, God actually responds to Habakkuk’s frustration. They go back and forth a couple times before Habakkuk finally understands that God is in control. But after hearing how the book began, listen to the ending of the book:
“I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
the Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.”
ASK ONE OR TWO: Do you notice a change in Habakkuk’s attitude? What’s the big difference?
- ASK ONE OR TWO: Assuming Habakkuk’s situation hasn’t changed, how can his attitude be so different?
- ASK A FEW: Habakkuk needed to be reminded that God was in control. You can see that as he remembers who God is, he has a totally new focus. Think again of the time when you felt hopeless. How could a correct view of who God is have changed the way you responded to that situation?
- ASK A FEW: The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hope as a “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” If this is true, that hope is simply desiring something and knowing you’re going to get it, what do we as Christians have our hope in? (There are several answers: Christ’s return, eternal life in Heaven, Rom. 8:28, etc.)
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Considering all that we have discussed tonight, what would your response be to someone who accuses Christianity of just being a place of false hope?
As Christians, we all will go through times when things seem bleak. There are times when we feel like Red, stuck in prison with no hope for the future. But the Bible shows us over and over that hope and trusting in the Lord can and will get us through the worst trials life may have to offer. For Andy, stuck in prison, all he needed was to remember how beautiful music was. For Habakkuk, he needed to be reminded that God is in control. What is it for you? What do you need to put your hope in? Before we finish up tonight, pick a partner and share what kind of realities you need to be focusing on, that can give you hope through all situations. Read Colossians 3:1-4 with your partner. If one of you is going through a difficult time right now, then have your partner pray for that situation. If not, pray for each other anyway, that each of you will be prepared when difficult times come, and that until then you can both stay focused on what we need to keep our hope in.
Written by Matt Furby
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.