During this past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our Christian faith impacts, strengthens, and sustains our sense of hope. It was during the week prior to Easter of last year that Naomi went to the hospital for the last time, during which we were told that there is no longer “any hope” for recovery from her four year battle with Crohn’s Disease, and that the end of her earthly journey was near. But you know – once the shock of those words passed, God gave her (and me) a sense of relief that the suffering is almost over, and her final two weeks at home with hospice care formed a peace-filled conclusion to our forty-five years of life and ministry together. When she took her last breath on May 1st, I was even able to say “thank you, Lord”.
The only explanation I have for that spirit of joyful peace and gratitude has something to do with what we call “our Christian hope”. The “peace that surpasses all understanding” has been my experience ever since, for our hope for the future is also a sustaining hope in the present. The truth that “to be absent from this body is to be present with our Lord” is based on hope. Naomi’s deliverance from earthly suffering and full possession of perfect and full redemption is based on hope. As I approach the one year anniversary of life without her, I am filled with the joyful prospect of seeing her again. Why? It’s called hope.
This hope that we as followers of Jesus possess is so much more than a weak “hope so”. It’s a hope of strong conviction, for it’s based on the biblical accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us that through an authentic faith union with Christ in His death, our sins are forgiven and our deserved condemnation is removed. And through our faith union with Jesus in His resurrection, we have the promise – not some possibility – but the certain promise of sharing His eternal life and His perfect righteousness forever. The New Testament is full of references to Christ living in us, which the apostle Paul calls our “hope of glory’.
As we look at life’s unpleasant circumstances and get caught up in the hopelessness and despair that increasingly characterizes so much of today’s world, let’s take another look at Jesus Christ. Pull out a good Bible Concordance and read all the passages that speak of hope, and be encouraged and sustained by the hope that only Jesus can give.
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you………Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ……..Let us hold fast he confession of our hope without wavering , for he who promised is faithful.’ (I Peter 1:3-4, 13; Hebrews 10:23)
Transitional Pastor Roger Poppen