For the last week of our forty days together, we’ll be hearing from some other voices in our church. Today’s entry comes from Senior Pastor Kevin Flowers.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
ROMANS 15:4, 13 (NIV)
If you and I had been at the cross the day Jesus was crucified we would have sworn what stood before us was the worst thing that could have possibly ever happened. An innocent man, betrayed by one of his own, sentenced by a biased jury of peers, and executed in the cruelest of fashions. We would have thought this was the day that hope died.
In fact, hope did die. On this day a little more than 2,000 years ago the very embodiment of hope laid lifeless in a tomb. When the stone sealed the entrance, everyone who believed stopped believing. We have no evidence of anyone crossing their fingers hoping for a reunion tour. The disciples had scattered with no indication of a plan to come back together and somehow keep the dream alive. The dead, lifeless body of Jesus seemed to say it all. He wasn’t who he claimed to be. Surely “The Resurrection and The Life” couldn’t die. When the Gospel writer Luke said that “darkness covered the earth” he meant it in every sense of the word. It was both literal and figurative all at the same time because when Jesus died, the hopes and dreams of everyone who had followed him died right alongside him. And what stood in his place was an overwhelming sense of uncertainty.
Life in the 21st century has given us the advantage of time and with it an updated perspective of the cross, but isn’t it true that life still has a way of dragging us through some very similar emotions? Unexpected endings, unforeseeable exits, circumstances that evolve much differently than we had imagined – we all have stories with details to fill. In the middle of our confusion or fear or despair, we find that what we often lack is the very same thing that evaded the disciples, too: hope.
The unexpected and the uncertain have a way of extinguishing hope like torrential spring rains on a flickering outdoor camp fire, yet as those who live on this side of the empty tomb, we know that hope is essential. CS Lewis calls hope “one of the theological virtues.” Hope, he writes, is “a continual looking forward to the eternal world… not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.”
We look forward with the hope of knowing this chapter in life is not our final chapter. We look forward believing that God will have the last word. We turn our eyes towards heaven trusting that even in the darkest of days He is knitting our life together for our good and His glory. It isn’t always easy. In fact at times it feels impossible. But on a Saturday that for the disciples meant hopes dashed and dreams lost, we can look ahead with perspective and hope. We can see what they could not and find comfort in knowing that Sunday is coming.
God you know the weariness in my waiting, how hope can seem to drag and my heart can feel like its failing. In these moments of weakness, give me the strength to cast my eyes on You, to hear once again that the work is finished and that the darkness that covered all things has been wiped away by the glory of the resurrected King. In all my uncertainties today, let Your truth and Your hope be my solid ground. AMEN.
It is tempting in our modern rush to numb the pain of unexpected circumstances or unforeseeable problems with activity or busyness. Instead, spend time today with God in the middle of your uncertainty. Let your questions and fears drive you to His perfect love. Instead of distractions, cultivate dependence.