The world is a beautiful place. Here on the reservation natural beauty is all around us, and a short drive in any direction will take us to another place of beauty, one that will be very different from here near town, but glorious in its own way.
And while natural beauty is so abundant we all also know that everyday life can, and often is, quite hard. We have responsibilities and obligations to fulfill. We may be living or working with people that we have a hard time getting along with. We may be struggling with illness, or someone close to our heart may be wrestling with addictions. The stress of life can be hard and there are times when our best day is one in which we somehow make it to bedtime, where we can get a few hours of respite as we sleep before beginning all over again the next day.
The apostle Paul knew quite a bit of hardship in his life. In writing to the church at Corinth he felt that he needed them to understand what he was going through, saying:
"For we do not want you to be ignorant brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death."
Paul and his companions felt that the weight of their hardship was so severe that they were on the verge of death. But he goes on to show us what he learned in that trial, adding these words:
"But that was to make us not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again."
Paul had learned to rely on God, and it was God in whom he placed his hope. And Paul can hope in God because it is God "who raises the dead." More specifically I believe that Paul is referring to the resurrection of Jesus when he writes to Corinth, for it is in Jesus, and Jesus alone, in whom we can truly have hope.
Paul speaks of earthly peril, but he also points towards the eternal pain of separation from God for all who refuse the saving work of Jesus. It is in the Easter moment, the death-and-resurrection of Jesus, where God clearly shows the lengths He will go to in order to give hope to all who come, in faith, to Him.
May you live in the hope of Easter, the hope of eternal life with Jesus, as your faithful Savior and Lord. This is true hope, and it is truly our only hope.
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.