It is written that Abraham had two sons,
one by the slave woman and the other by the freeborn woman.
The son of the slave woman was born naturally,
the son of the freeborn through a promise.
How fascinating that Saint Paul describes Isaac, the son born to Sarah, as "freeborn through a promise!"
There is no promise in slavery. There is no future there; only an expectation of bad to worse. Abraham Lincoln used this argument during the runup to the Civil War. When southern ideologues defended their system of chattel slavery by arguing that factory workers in northern cities were "wage slaves," he replied that these unhappy people had, if nothing else, hope for a better future. There were still opportunities on the American frontier. Chattel slaves on southern plantation could hope for nothing but death. A half century later, with the rise of the labor movement and unions, the life of workers did improve.
Freedom means nothing without the promise of a better future. The promise may be nothing more than a two week vacation or a two day weekend, but without something to look forward to, the human spirit falters.
My office mate and I celebrate "hump day" with great festivity. Each Wednesday I bring out "Mike," a small glass camel, an escapee from a Christmas creche, to mark the occasion. She often calls up the Youtube video and we laugh together.
For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm / and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
Life in the Spirit of Jesus is a free life. We find even in discouraging situations opportunities and openings for generosity, kindness, and hope. Economically, we will always be subject to booms and busts; money in the bank is worth only what others say it's worth. Socially we will experience integration and disintegration; in the 1860's few people trusted their neighbors, in the 1960's most people did; few people even know their neighbors today. Those cycles will never be broken.
But spiritual persons -- those Saint Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 2: 12-16 -- see a future of possibilities. They always finds reasons to hope and occasions to rejoice.