Hope in this Life Only…

It is Palm Sunday. We are in the season of celebrating the pinnacle of our faith–Christ’s death and resurrection. During this season, I have been spending a bit of time meditating on hope in this life and for all eternity. Paul wrote that Jesus’s resurrection is the foundation of our hope.

In spite of the amazing evidence from God’s Word that He does work for the good of those who love him, sometimes I find myself hard pressed to look forward with hope. There are days when my future seems more to be dreaded than anticipated. Yet, living bereft of hope is, well, miserable. The human heart searches tenaciously for a reason to hope. My heart as might be expected, cannot languish in the shadows of hopelessness. For even on my most hopeless days, I remember that my future is not encapsulated by the days I spend on this earth.

Instead my hope is in a future beyond time, outside of the bounds of this life, and in the presence of my Savior. I think this is a bit of what motivated Paul to spend nearly an entire chapter of his book to the Corinthians defending the resurrection.

False teachers had infiltrated the young church at Corinth, arguing against a resurrection of the dead. These likely came from Jews who tended toward the Sadducees’ view, as well as Gentiles who reportedly, “mocked when they heard of the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts. 17:32). It was certainly a doctrine scorned by the philosophers of Epicurean persuasion, from whom comes the mantra, “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”  The fledgling church was being tempted away from a hope beyond this life. So in defense of the resurrection Paul makes this strong statement, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15: 19)  Wow! In other words the Christian life, the Christian faith, the Christian community is pitiable on the highest level IF there is no resurrection.

But Jesus is proof that there is resurrection, that life doesn’t end in death. He, himself, exercised power over death, and promised His disciples that he was preparing a place for them to join Him in his “Father’s house.”

How starkly I remember standing in my brother’s kitchen just a couple days after I learned of the investigation into Joel’s illegal internet activity and saying to him, “All my life, it’s going to be pity or scorn. That’s all I have to look forward to! I don’t want to be pitied!”  I could well-imagine the many acquaintances and even casual friends who would hear of Joel’s criminal activity, shake their heads in disapproval and then cast pitying glances my way. It was an unbearable thought. Being pitied is after all quite miserable. Yet,  when I succumb to hopelessness I am living as one who is to be pitied, almost as if I invite that pity into my life. I am living as if there is no resurrection of the dead. And yet I know better. For if I truly believe God, I do have reason to hope, not only because one day I will be raised to new life, but because that power is at work right now in this life and on my behalf. Yes, my future is secure. My hope is eternal. And that eternal perspective gives me the grace to see that God works in this life for my good.

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