Living Hope

April 11, 2018

In the dark times of our lives, we experience helplessness. In the darkest times, however, we experience hopelessness.

 

Hopelessness is more than depression or frustration. Hopelessness is despair. No matter what we do or how we react, we cannot shake it. It surrounds us, and it permeates everything we do. We give up. We give in. We stop trying.

 

Eleven men who had locked themselves in a room in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago knew exactly how this feels.

 

They were disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. They came to believe that He was the Messiah (“Anointed One”) and the Son of God. There was nothing He could not do, and nothing He could not overcome.

 

Then He was arrested, condemned to death, and crucified.

 

When He was buried, hope was buried with Him.

 

These eleven men – the innermost circle of those who had given up everything to follow Jesus – locked themselves in a room in Jerusalem out of fear that they would be arrested and killed by the same Jewish authorities who had procured the crucifixion of Jesus only days before (John 20:19-20).

 

Fear was their enemy, and hopelessness became their new companion.

 

How did they finally prevail? Not by running away, and not by deciding to put their trust in one another or some new leader. In fact, they didn’t do anything at all.

 

God did.

 

When Jesus rose from the dead, He made it His mission to instill courage and determination in these eleven men. In time, they would go forth (thus the name “apostles”) to change the world by proclaiming the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.

 

God wants to do the same for you.

 

No, God doesn’t want you to leave everything behind by becoming an apostle or missionary. In fact, He just wants you to become whole again and minister in the places, and to the people, you already know. After that, anything is possible.

 

But first God wants to give you your hope back.

 

As I write these words of encouragement, I do not know what has caused your hope to diminish or your courage to dwindle. But God does. He knows what has befallen you and how it has affected you. Most of all, He knows what to do about it.

 

Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins, and He rose from the dead to give us hope – a living hope, a hope that will never die. This is what Peter meant when he wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1:3-4, NIV)

 

Importantly, Peter wasn’t writing to the other Apostles; he was writing to “God’s elect” (1 Peter 1:1, NIV), those who believed Jesus was the Son of God and had risen from the dead. By the supernatural power of the Word of God, this now includes us – you and me – right here in the Twenty-First Century.

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the courage and strength we need to get up and get going each and every day.

 

Hardships in the world will still come our way, but Jesus proved that He had overcome the world (John 16:33) – and, by His strength, so can we (Philippians 4:13).

 

Today, rest in the arms of the Son of God. Take the hand of the One whose hands took the nails for you. Accept His forgiveness, mercy, and strength. Then accept His hope – His living, undying hope for you – and go forth.

 

-- Dr. John Morris

 

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