To receive e-mail notifications of new articles, please leave your e-mail address in the subscription box below or visit our FaceBook page and click 'Like'.

Apr 4, 2015

Resurrection Hope

Do you ever despair to the point of losing hope? Ever feel attacked, outnumbered, abandoned, and alone? Have you ever wanted to just give us, believing for certain that your defeat is inevitable and just a matter of time? Well if you have, you’re certainly not alone. Most of us have reached that point at least once, feeling so defeated that we lose all hope. Some come back to that point over and over and struggle to ever find hope in their life.

This week my wife and daughter are away, leaving me home alone. While I miss them greatly, it gives me time to catch up on some “guy time”, doing stuff I normally make a lower priority when we’re together as a family. So in addition to a couple rounds of golf and some extra time on my bike, I watched the Lord of the Rings again. One particular scene in the second movie caught my attention as it portrayed the feelings of fear, helplessness, and even anger when facing a challenge with little hope of victory.

Before the approaching battle at Helm’s Deep, Legolas, the normally stouthearted elf, was feeling despair at the seemingly imminent doom set before them. He began expressing his worries to his friend Aragorn, but also in the presence of the even more frightened people surrounding them. He pointed out that they were a mere three hundred against ten thousand. He declared, “They cannot win this fight. They are all going to die.” Then Aragorn, the future king, replied, “Then I shall die as one of them!”

Most of us have reached such moments of despair and hopelessness. We may not have faced an approaching army of 10,000 orcs, but we’ve had other fears, fights, and failures. Maybe you lost hope when you lost a loved one, a job, or your health. Maybe you grow weary from a longer battle over sickness, broken relationships, self-doubt, guilt, or a besetting sin that you can’t overcome. Maybe the worries of the world weigh heavy on you and you realize you can’t do a thing about it. In those moments it can even be hard to hang onto your faith and still trust that God knows what he’s doing or even cares about you.

But imagine what the disciples of Jesus must have felt immediately after his crucifixion. They had expected that the Kingdom of God was at hand. Jesus was about to defeat his enemies and set up his kingdom on earth. The Messiah had come. Then, only a week after his triumphal entry into the city, he had been betrayed by one of their own, arrested, falsely accused, sentenced to death, tortured, humiliated, and finally, crucified. They were scattered, suddenly without their leader and friend, without direction, and in danger for their own lives. They must have been confused, angry, heartbroken, and afraid.

But then came the Resurrection! And hope was restored. Eventually they understood what had really happened and why. They were shown God’s great plan of salvation and it began to make sense. Out of the despair of their darkest day, came eternal hope and everlasting joy in the risen Christ.

In our lives, often filled with troubles and doubts, we have to remember and believe that God is in control of all things and that he loves us. He knows exactly what he’s doing with us in our lives. He has not forgotten us or abandoned us, even when we feel alone.

And even when our trials persist, when we still struggle, and when things are not resolved to our satisfaction in this life, we can look to our eternal peace and joy thanks to the saving grace of our Lord. We are called to have hope in both this life and the next. We can find the strength through Christ to claim as Paul did, "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Cor 4:8-9)

As we remember both the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus this Easter weekend, praise God for the hope that he brings to us through his saving work and eternal love for us. And don’t lose faith or hope even as we go through our trials in this life.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  (1 Peter 1:3-7)

Later in the scene I was describing from Lord of the Rings, Legolas came back to his friend Aragorn in private and told him, "We have trusted you this far. You have not led us astray. Forgive me, I was wrong to despair." He was able to overcome his despair by remembering that his good friend could be trusted, had kept them safe so far, and was even willing to sacrifice himself. If this fictional character can find hope in an earthly king, then shouldn't we have an even easier time trusting in the one true King who will never lead us astray and really did die as one of us to provide us eternal life and a living hope?

Happy Easter and may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.