Allen Rea, pastor
Dunn Memorial Baptist Church, Baxley
Hope is in short supply these days. Spiritual leaders fail to finish the course. Carnality has become common in our churches. The Lord tarries His coming. In such circumstances we are more often prone to feel disappointment and disillusionment. However, like the father of our faith, Abraham, we are called to have “hope against hope” (Romans 4:18).
Faith is what we live by, and the only thing that will ever make us righteous in God’s sight (Romans 1:17; 4:1). Faith and hope are spiritually connected, but will not outlive the eternality of love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Hope is often found in the situations that look hopeless from our perspective. This is definitive proof that our perspective short-circuits our faith. Hope is found by focusing on the sufficiency of God; hope is lost by dwelling on the shortness of our endurance.
Jesus arrived in Bethany to a corpse that was four days old. This is the source of Martha’s frustration when she states that if Jesus had been present Lazarus would not have died (11:21). She seems to have had no problem believing that Christ could heal the sick, but raising the dead seemed a bit out of reach.
In her defense, bodily resurrections and miracles in general are not commonplace in the Bible. Miracles were frequent during three different biblical times: Moses and Aaron, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and the Apostles. Four days of mourning can wear down hope. Three words from Jesus can establish faith (11:43).
Hope is often found in the environments that look hopeless from our perspective. Jesus requests to see the tomb and overflows with compassion (John 11:34-35). They take him to the tomb.
As a pastor I am often called on to conduct funerals. I had stood beside caskets in the cemetery and looked around and saw myriads of headstones. Those headstones populating the horizon state biblical truth: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). A valley full of tombs may not be an environment where hope can flourish; however, Jesus speaks hope into a hopeless environment.
He has conquered death, and will share that conquering with all that believe (11:25-26). His words of life break the tombstones of rock with the biblical truth that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Jesus’ mighty words are not simple hope to use as a crutch to help you heal from the loss of a loved one. The hope that Jesus offers is eternal and will be forever. Paul stated that “if we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Men, time, circumstances, and every other conceivable thing will tempt us to lose hope.
As Christians sometimes our situations seem hopeless. The very environment we are treading through seems dark, unforgiving, and hopeless. At times like that we are at our weakest; therefore, Christ is at His strongest (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Christ is never late, and we are never without hope. Behold, He comes!