Hope is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. Paul ranked it right up there with love and faith in 1 Corinthians 13.13. Every human being needs some degree of hope to survive. We’re always looking forward to something, whether it’s the next holiday, the next game, or the end of coronavirus social distancing. This sense of anticipation keeps us positive and fills us with energy to make it through less than desirable days.
Though we have a sense of what it is, hope is truly a rather cryptic idea that defies easy definition. Some terms are better illustrated than defined and hope is one of them. If you use the letters of the word to illustrate the nature of hope, you might come up with something like this.
H is for Heaven! Paul reminded Titus in 2.13 that our “blessed hope” is the appearing of the glory of Christ, which will be realized with the culmination of history and the dawn of Heaven. As followers of Christ our hope is not good health nor material happiness, but eternal life in the presence of God Himself.
O is for Opportunity! Those people who are filled with hope see obstacles as opportunities. They are eternal optimists in nature. Hopeful people see the positives in the problem and celebrate the possibilities it presents. They don’t complain that the roses have thorns; they celebrate because the thorns have roses.
P is for Passion! I’m referring, of course, to the Passion of Christ our Lord. We are all sinful by nature and are, thereby, without God and without hope (Eph.2.12). On our own, we have no possibility of abundant life now nor eternal life to come. We can only experience such because of Christ’s undeserved death in our behalf. May we never forget that the Father made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become His righteousness (2 Cor. 5.21).
E stands for (drumroll please) the Empty tomb! Without the resurrection, Christ’s death would have been the tragic end of a good life. However, the empty tomb validates the virgin birth, substantiates every truth He taught, and elevates His crucifixion to an eternal sacrifice for sin. Those who live in light of the empty tomb cannot help but be filled with hope for today, tomorrow, and time to come.
Many seem to be disheartened by the prolonged nature of this pandemic. I’ve even sensed that some may be allowing a shadow to be cast over the cross and the empty tomb as we approach Easter. Those of us who follow Christ, however, know that the cross and empty tomb actually shine a light on the shadow of this global emergency. Though our celebration of Easter may be a bit different this year, one thing remains the same: the Savior who died for our sin is alive forevermore. This is the hinge on which our hope swings, and nothing can squelch this good gift of God!
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