“We live in the imminent reality of the afflicted. But there is hope and the hope comes through the power of the resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. So what is this hope? Is this hope supposed to be some cute little cliche that you can post upon your Facebook wall and maybe get a lot of likes on it? That’s cool. To some, that’s all that the hope of Christ is. Is the hope of Christ supposed to be something that the preacher is supposed to say over your casket as you lie dead in it? For some, that’s all that the hope of Christ is. But for us, who live with this reality, what is the hope of Christ? The hope of Christ is a motivation. It is a motivation that pushes us forward. It is a motivation that says that we can help those that are afflicted with us. It is a hope that says there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is a hope that says, ‘yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’ For Christ walks with me. And not only does Christ walk with you, but he has walked ahead of you. For he has made a way. For that is the hope of Christ. The hope of Christ is the resurrection. The hope of Christ is what drives the confidence of the believer…. Biblical hope is not an escape of the reality [in] which we live. It is not an escape. It is not flowers covering the charred remains, for the charred remains still stand. But we know there is hope even in the midst of the [rubbish]. We know there is hope in the midst of the ruin. Even in the problems that the afflicted face.” (Victor Stevens, pastor Westridge Christian Church)
This week, our pastor’s sermon was about hope. I have been thinking in recent days, that many people misuse the word “hope” and therefore, it doesn’t carry the same meaning that it should. They say, “I hope I get the job,” or “I hope I get a car for my birthday,” or “I hope it doesn’t rain.” Even worse is when you ask someone if they are going to heaven and their reply is, “I hope so.” What they really mean is that they “wish.” When we, as Christians, speak of hope, we aren’t wishing. We are knowing.
Biblical hope, for us, is expectation. Confidence. Assurance. When we say we have hope in the Lord, we are saying that we have expectation in Christ. When we say we have hope for the future, we mean that we have confidence. When we say that we have the hope of heaven, we are speaking of an assurance. We don’t wish it were so…we KNOW it is.
I John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Psalm 62:5 “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.”
Hebrews 6: 19 “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…”
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
And we can go on and on with verses about hope. Where does our hope lie? We have confidence that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, defeating death. We have assurance that we will live eternally with him. This is the whole message of Easter–that we have hope! We have a Saviour who has conquered death. We have a God who loved us enough to send His Son to die for us! Our God is NOT dead. Jesus is not dead. He laid down his life for us, but he came back to show us that he is our hope and we can be sure that we have something waiting for us beyond this life.
The place where you can see hope played out most clearly is at a funeral. One of the worst things I have ever seen was when I went to the funeral of one who had no hope. There was no faith in that family and no belief that they would ever see that loved one again. This was good-bye. Not “see you later,” as it is for those of us who follow Christ. The wailing that I heard at that funeral will stay with me. I wept, not because I was close to the one that had died, but because it broke my heart to see no hope. It was a wretched, painful, gut-wrenching thing.
This world is a mean, sorrow-filled, barren place. I cannot imagine going through life without hope. I have extreme sympathy for those without it because I know I couldn’t make it through one day without it. I’m so glad that I don’t have to.
In contrast, the funerals I have attended where we have had hope, certainty, that our loved one is waiting for us in heaven have been comforting and joyful. I’m not saying that tears weren’t shed. However, our tears were for us, because we miss them. We don’t weep for those that are now with God, in a place where there is no more sorrow or death or pain. I wept at my grandfather’s funeral, not because I had no hope of ever seeing him again, but because this world seemed a darker, lonelier place without him. When my father died, it was a very traumatic event for me. However, I knew that he was better off and despite my pain, I wouldn’t have wished him back into this broken world of sorrow and all the pain that he dealt with on a daily basis for anything. My dad loved gospel music and I imagine him sitting in heaven, participating in worship with his favorite gospel singers that had gone before. I could imagine he was infinitely more happy than he ever could have been here. It’s not just wishful thinking–it’s a reality that I am sure of. I will see him and my grandpa again.
Every day, I grow a little more homesick. Because I am a foreigner here. This is not my home. My citizenship is in heaven and I long to go home. My hope is in Christ alone. And my hope is a confidence so strong that I stake my entire life and eternity on it.