Over the past few months my wife, Robin, and I have been walking with some people going through very trying times. Some of this has been at a distance and some has been face-to-face. These include:
A granddaughter who died in February, following an accident at home.
A very dear friend who was diagnosed with advanced and essentially untreatable cancer, who passed away in late June.
A relative who was recently diagnosed with advanced and essentially untreatable cancer.
A relative recently diagnosed with a circulatory problem, who declined high-risk surgery, her only treatment option.
Two extended families within our church who each lost family members very unexpectedly last week.
In addition to the care, concern and prayers that we have offered I have preached two funerals, one for our granddaughter, in June, and one for a church family last week.
As I think about these people tonight I find myself coming back to this question: Where do we find hope?
Do we find hope in medical care? Sometimes, but not always. And even at its best, medical care can only delay what one day comes to all of us. Our death.
Do we find hope in our friends and family? Perhaps in them we receive encouragement and support. Very often they may provide very real and much appreciated care for our physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Do we find hope in our own grit and determination? Again, perhaps, but only for a time. Stubbornness, the refusal to yield to a cancer that is inexorably advancing, can only last so long.
Do we find hope in something that lies beyond the reach of this world? Yet again, perhaps, depending on what it is you believe in while you are in this world.
The apostle Paul touched on the idea of hope when he wrote to the church at Thessaloniki. He understood that the hope that some people were holding on to was really no hope at all. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 he wrote,
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep."
In saying "those who are asleep" Paul is talking about believers in Jesus who have died. And Paul makes crystal clear that the only true hope for all Christians, is in Jesus. All who have faith in Him are His own, eternally. And as He rose from death to eternal life, so too will they. This is a sure and certain promise from God.
The opening section of the Heidelberg Catechism states the certainty of God's hold on His children this way:
Question & Answer 1
Where is your hope? It is my prayer that your hope is in Jesus, for it is my belief that He alone is our only hope.
He is our only hope in whatever may lie ahead for us each day in this world. And He is our only certain hope for eternal life.
May you know hope, true and everlasting hope, in Jesus.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.