“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 41: 18-19
Something I deeply admired over the past couple weeks analyzing The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne was the way in which the main character Hester Prynne continued to push on; regardless of the hard things she was going through or the trials she faced.
In reading through the story of a woman who is condemned to a life of shame and made an outcast of society, the pattern of continual grief and pain are apparent in Hester’s life. As was the norm for the Protestant society she resided in, the sin of bearing a child out of wedlock was among the worst, and could be punishable by death. Hester, in being shown “grace” escaped the punishment of death but was left in isolation, branded with a red “A” for adulterer on her clothes, a child, and people who showed her no kindness. She was given such hard circumstances to deal with, but she found the good, and worked hard to contribute good to the world. She helped others, worked hard, took sincere care of her daughter, and remained silent towards the male figure also responsible for the child. Hester was determined, brave, humble, and servant-hearted even when the world was against her.
This resonated with me more than anything else in the book. I loved the beauty in Hester’s strength conveyed through Hawthorne’s writing. The book inspired a feeling of independence and personal strength, but also in this inspiration, it made me realize that we can’t be that all on our own. We live in a broken world, with terrible chaos, destruction, and pain. And sadly we can’t all be Hester Prynnes. It’s impossible to manage the weight of the world and the trials we face just on our own personal strength and durability.
This piece of what I took from The Scarlet Letter, coupled with Isaiah 41:18-19 really encouraged me. It reminded me that yes the world will come, there will be really hard things to experience and really difficult times, but He will comfort us in those times and “make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”. Just as Hawthorne portrayed a character bravely withstanding everything the world threw at her, so will we be able to stand strong through our trials with His strength and comfort. We don’t need to be Hester Prynnes, we don’t need to face the world on our own, and we don’t need to go through pain or grief without His help and guidance.