It has happened to us all. A day has come to pass where a dearly beloved one has been taken away from us never to be seen again in this present life; we have painfully watched as someone we knew and closely, even intimately, related with (maybe someone we couldn’t imagine life without) suddenly succumb to some unexplainably mysterious sleep — the slumber of DEATH! The thing with sleep is that there is the hope of getting back up after a matter of hours (or days in some cases) — such a notion is completely alien to death! It grabs violently, indiscriminately, unexpectedly and with a heart-rending finality. When it speaks, the message is not only clear and resounding, but it cuts through the very hardest of hearts. Death is not a cup of sweet tea — it is more like a bottomless mug of malodorous black mud that has to be ingested; ALL to the last torturous drop! Those affected by it cannot escape the glaring display of its dark art nor the lingering punch of its awful power. Its natural effect is a sorrowful heart and an unsettled mind. “I am so sorry, my bleeding heart”, you pitifully say to yourself. We have all been victim to this giant’s oppression, and shall one day become its sure target. Yes, death in its element is one ugly beast; a leviathan that man has not as yet, in fact shall never (alone), successfully tame. Hence it is incumbent upon every living man to not only consider and prepare himself for this faithful occurence, but to go further if he must hope that death is not the end! Herein lies the crux of the matter — if man shall live after death, what must he do? Furthermore, how shall he go about such an unattainable task? How is it that man can and shall defeat death altogether and have eternal life? Hope, O lovely hope, where art thou?
Hope is a tranquil word. It denotes an optimistic expectation — it is pregnant with life and abundance. It does not only calm the human heart to have hope; it goes further to infuse joy into us. How blessed the hopeful are; how glad their hearts; how settled their minds; how focussed their aspirations; how unshakeable their confidence; how vibrant their life! Yet, mere hope, as it stands alone, disappoints many a time. It disappoints men of business; men of politics; men of tact and wisdom; men of sport; men of dreams and ambitions; men of charisma and influence; men of patience; men of honor; men of valor; men of all tribes of the earth; men of love; men of life. There is not a son of Adam who has not been disappointed by hope in this life. Shall we then put our trust; our confidence in such a hope against mighty and certain death? I ask, is this not hoping against a weak and impotent hope? Death hears no answer from such a penetrable shield. If your hope cannot assure you beyond all shadow of doubt that it shall bear fruit and deliver life to you alive — your hope, if it can even be so called, is swallowed in death! Death is victorious over you and shall continue to be so until you can assure your soul confidently that a hope exists which can clearly injure and kill death. If such a thought seems far-fetched, or even foolish to you, then you would be best suited to live life like a brute animal, for then, if we follow your logic, we all die and are forgotten in the ocean of endless time! Such a person sees no use in hope — what a shriveled life that must be! To all who yearn for the culmination of hope, however, take heart and be joyful. The hope that conquers and that does not disappoint is no myth — such a hope is there for all who see it. And how shall you so see it?
Do you see Christ upon the Cross groaning in pain and crying out to the Father in desperation? Do you see Him die like a mortal, even as graves are opened and many among the dead are brought back to life? Why, do you not see Him cut the illustrious mane of death and dash his goring teeth in with a rod of iron as He takes His rightful keys, burying our sin with death itself? Moreover, what do you make of His glorious awakening by which He condemns death and displays the potent evidence of His sin-swallowing death-vanquishing life-giving body? I submit to you that there are a class of men who shall not be disappointed by hope. Hope has marked them for a prize and a crown for itself. Hope ever lives to be gloriously fulfilled in them — but, in them alone! These blessed men are identified not by the color of their skin, nor by any outward physical mark, nor by a particular shape or size, nor by the level of their intelligence. In fact, these men are not merely identified by how “good” they are — what sets them apart is their faith, resulting in love which blossom into good deeds and a holy life before God. Christians — we are such heirs, even now possessors of an eternal hope! Christ Jesus, a true Man, has succeeded where none can nor ever shall. Here is the crown of it all — it was all for us; for the true believer alone. Jesus has ever been in existence, being true God. He never once needed deliverance from cruel death, seeing that He is the eternal One. Consider that there is no wisdom, solution or trap that we can use to overcome death apart from this one Man. He owns it all. Only He can and does save those He will from death. Only He can, if you shall believe, give you the conquering hope. Jesus Christ IS our Living Hope! Such a hope is grounded in putting our faith in God, Who alone holds and gives eternal life. It is, therefore presently, a confident hope; a delivering hope; an indwelling hope; a saving hope; a glorious hope; a bearing hope; a sure hope. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, with a repentant heart — ’tis the only thing that saves! May God grant you hope in Himself.