Frederick Douglas reflecting on his state of mind prior to escape from slavery wrote, “The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound and seen in everything. It was ever present to torment me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm. “
I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed.
O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute! … I am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save me! God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I’ll try it. I had as well die with ague as the fever. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing.
Hope and the Courage to Persevere
His desire for freedom from the dehumanizing condition of being the property of another was all consuming. Such a life was a condemnation, a terrible unending sentence less to be preferred than death or better still to have never been born. His poignant but penetrating question strikes deep, “why was a born a man of whom to make a brute?” The most difficult thing about living in pain and anxiety is the uncertainty of the future. As Douglas contemplated the future of living in this wretched state, the only thing that kept him from suicide was the hope of being free. Hope is the powerful antidote to living in despair in the present and anxiety about the future. Hope led Douglas to make another attempt to be free “I might as well be killed running as die standing.” To live in hope is to never die in despair. True hope keeps hoping even when I am not sure of the outcome. That is because I am not living in hope of something, I am living in the eternal hope, it cannot be realized in temporal existence. I believe this hope can get us through these challenging times
So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. The things that are seen are temporal. The things that are not seen are eternal 2 Corinthians 4:18