Hope in Despair

1 Corinthians 15:12-19, "Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied."

Now for many is the time for renewed hope.  We are accustomed to life in a world of failed expectation.  We need “someone” who “can do something about it.” No matter what the age we examine, war continues; poverty is a part of existence; injustice flourishes; sickness rages; and death is inescapable.
We have grown so accustomed to these realities that we no longer expect an end to war, poverty, injustice, sickness, or death.  When a war ends, we “know” another will arise (does anyone remember WWI?).  When one case of poverty ends, several more replace it (around 600 people came Saturday to the Hope Chest).  When one form of injustice ends, others appear (the “cigar filled room” that often controlled a political process is replaced with technological injustices).  When a sickness is “conquered,” others arise (remember a world without AIDS?)  Physical death is the ultimate reality for all physically born (contrast a 1996 church directory with the 2006 church directory).  If hope is based on any of these ceasing in physical existence, all that occurs is disappointment.
Hope always comes at a price.  The hope we place in the infant Jesus ended in physical death in a Roman execution.  Hope did not die.  Jesus died.  Hope continued in his resurrection.  The baby became a man who physically died.  That was hope’s price.
Do not expect a physical existence of no war, no poverty, no injustice, no sickness, or no death.  The hope of his birth was the hope of his cross.  The hope of his cross was the hope of his resurrection.  The hope of his resurrection was our hope of life in God’s presence.  In that “place” there is no war, no poverty, no injustice, no sickness, and no death. 
God’s hope is not the hope of wishing.  It is the hope of expectation.  Anticipation must be a factor in Christian hope!  Because we are “good”?  NO!  Because the good God gave us hope in all He did in Jesus’ death and resurrection!
Often this week I heard Joyce say: “Why should I want to live my life over?  I am closer to heaven now than I was in my past.  Why should I want to go back?” 
Because of Jesus, you can live with God.  You cannot go back.  Do what is possible!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 21 December, 2006

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