Rogue One: Delivering Hope
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…
…and somewhere in between the original trilogy and the prequels, we have Rogue One. When we jump into this installment of the story, we see a galaxy that is on the brink of hopelessness. For decades, the empire has been tightening its grip, and with the loss of the Jedi and the completion of the Death Star, it looks like hope is escaping at hyper speed. What we find in this anthology chapter is the story of a ragtag group of rebels on a suicide mission against an unrelenting galactic government in order to deliver a message that the world desperately needs (which, by the way is the EXACT plot of the movie Serenity). There is a great backstory and development in the film, but the overall concept is doing what is necessary to bring hope, even during the bleakest of times. At the end of the film, we see Princess Leia smile as she knows that they have just been given hope, not only for the rebellion, but for the entire galaxy. This moment was especially beautiful since Carrie Fisher would soon pass away, but only she could make the concept of how real and important this hope was to the Star Wars legend.
Beyond just the Star Wars universe, it's safe to say that hope is important. It's not just relevant when a moon sized death machine is pointed at you. Hope is needed in our world today just as much as it was when it was in Jyn, Leia, or Rey's hands. So for those of us who aren't rebel scum or Jedi, how do we bring hope to our galaxy?
We see that people all across the galaxy are withering away. Jyn saw her mother killed and spent years before ever hearing from her father. We saw Gerrera lose his way over the years because there was no hope in sight. As a result, he became almost as twisted as the forces he rebelled against. Chirrut was left guarding a Jedi temple with no Jedi, caring passionately for something the world had virtually forgotten, and eventually experiencing the very thing for which he cared so deeply being completely destroyed. Not only amongst our main crew, but a feeling of hopeless was spreading more and more amongst the masses. This same feeling can be experienced all over our world today in every city, state, and country. Scripture shows us this is nothing new, but it is something serious. Solomon writes in Proverbs 13:12 that, ”Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." That verse shows us that when we lose hope, it literally brings sickness to our life. It eats away at the quality of life, and in turn erodes what little hope remains. It also states that when our hopes are fulfilled, it is a tree of life, planting us firmly and bringing growth and refreshment time and time again. Hope gives life, and taking it away is also taking life away. So often, hope is reduced to just being considered a feel-good mentality that optimists possess, but it is so much more. It's a spiritual state that goes beyond optimism or fuzzy feelings. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul states that it is one of the eternal things that will last when everything else in this world fades away; "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
So we recognize that hope is important, but sadly it does require patience. When Galen Erso allowed himself to be taken by the Empire, it was for the purpose of hope. That hope took time, though. He went so many years without the presence of his daughter or even the knowledge her condition. That had to be heartbreaking to suffer and do things that were painful and went against his heart and convictions. He was forced to do things that were literally killing him. However, everything he did with the work on the Death Star was to allow a glimmer of hope that would one day save lives. He had no guarantee this process would even work or that he would even find out the outcome, but he kept going. He didn’t even see that his hopes were valid until he was on the verge of death, but even in that painful moment, there was a reward.
Paul reminds us that we need to expect to have infrequent confirmation of our hopes. Hope, in its very nature, does not come with tangible proof, but requires patience for there to be fruit.
"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:24-25)
When it comes to our lives we, like Galen, will have to put in the work without knowing the exact outcome, whether it's your day job, ministry, or family. I served for years in camp and college ministry with the hopes that I was making a difference in the lives of the students I poured into. Now, with some years in between those times, I can see that some of my hopes were fulfilled. I was able to be a part of the formation of men and women who I truly believe will change this world. I've seen people give their lives to Christ and become missionaries or pastors. I've seen people I've discipled bear more fruit than I ever have. But on the same breath, I have also seen many of my hopes in that area were of no use. I've seen people I've literally bled for throw their lives away. That doesn't mean my work, effort, or hope was wasted, it just means sometimes the outcome isn't as encouraging as we would like it to be. But putting in the work and hoping against all odds will be things I never regret. I may not be off building a weapon of planetary destruction, but I do sacrifice for my daughters on a regular basis. I sacrifice time, effort, finances, and my own desires in hopes that one day they will grow into being remarkable women of God and character. It will be decades before I see the result of that; I may not even live long enough to see. But I hope. I hope, and that's worth it.
Having hope should change our perception and our attitude. The way that things had been going in the galaxy didn’t have much cause for hope; in fact, the wisest thing would have been for the rebels to surrender and join the empire, but hope can embolden people in even the bleakest of circumstances. The likelihood of the Rogue One team acquiring and delivering the Death Star plans were just as likely as Luke's miracle shot that blew it up. There is no logical way either of those things should have actually worked, but the hope that they might is what gave them the boldness. Just as Jyn stated, "What chance do we have? The question is what choice? Run, hide, plead for mercy, scatter your forces? You give way to an enemy this evil with this much power and you condemn the galaxy to an eternity of submission. The time to fight is now! We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope!”
Just like their hope empowered them to take on an empire, our hope should empower us to live for God in ways we would never have before. Proverbs 10:28 says, "The hope of the righteous is joy, but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing." Our hope should bring us joy in times when we feel like we can barely get through. Our hope should make pouring out grace and forgiving difficult people seem like a blessing instead of a burden.
Our hope isn't just in life after death. Our hope is in abundant life pouring through us right now. In 2 Corinthians 3:12, Paul makes the point that our hope in Christ makes us bold. He writes, "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold." The world needs us to be bold not for the sake of ourselves, but for God's people to live boldly. When that happens, God does big things. When our hope manifests in boldness, it is evidence that we are operating in God's strength instead of our own.
I knew before Rogue One that everyone was going to die. I know that was surprising to some, but it just seemed kind of obvious to me. The simple fact that we had never heard of any of these characters before and there was no place for them to fit after told me that they were all going to die. Watching the movie with this perspective made it even more beautiful. Their sacrifice is what put the "Hope" in "A New Hope." Everything they did was to enable others to live. I would encourage you to look around your world. Who in your life could truly use some hope? Can you be the one to give it to them? It may not be easy. It may require time and effort, but chances are, it won’t leave you obliterated on a beach as the world turns to cinders around you. Giving others hope is never about you. It's about giving them something they can't always give themselves. Something that will give them boldness and life, something that will make all they go through seem bearable. Rebel against this world's attitude of cynicism. Rebel against watching idly as people struggle to find a reason to get through the day. Rebel against accepting that things will get worse. Give hope.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)