In a world that seems to be falling apart, it’s hard to envision a world of hope right now. This pandemic is affecting all of us worldwide.
People are suffering, losing their jobs and businesses, losing their loved ones, and dying alone. We are all experiencing a new normal of working from home, filling in as a teacher to our children, sheltering in place, practicing social distancing and isolation so we all can do our part. But this can all get so overwhelming and devastating. What about the elderly and sick who are secluded from their loved ones? What about those who live alone or are in prison? Wherever we look everything seems so dark and hopeless.
It seems appropriate to talk about where can we find our living hope in a world that seems depleted of it.
Going through these hard times has made me reevaluate the source of my hope and what am I putting my trust in? I have a choice in how I will respond to chaotic situations and the unknown. Will I respond out of my fears or out of hope of what God can do? The pain we experience in life is unavoidable but how we respond matters.
I admit before all of this, I’ve been guilty of allowing my routine and schedule, be the source of my comfort. In reality these are my own false comforts, where I put my own temporary hope. I slip into lies that comfort me, if everything in life is going well, then life must be well. In reality, disruptions, detours, and setbacks shake up those lies and reveal God’s biggest hopes for us. They can reveal hidden hopes we never knew existed.
Have you ever heard the story of Cleopas and his companion in the Bible? It’s one of my favourite depictions of two men who lost hope and then Jesus himself revealed the living hope they didn’t see before.
In Luke 24:13-35, we read about two men who walked and talked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Their heads were hanging low because their hopes for a Messiah were crushed. They were discussing with each other the events that happened concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed before God (v.19). How he was condemned to death and crucified and already been three days since these things happened (v. 20-21). “They had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel (v.21).” They heard from some women who saw his empty tomb, and saw visions of angels that said he was alive (v. 23)!
Jesus had been walking alongside them the whole time, and they still didn’t recognise Him!
He speaks up and says, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that Christ should suffer to enter into his glory (v. 25-26)?”
The men just like everyone were confused thinking, ‘huh?’ They saw Jesus suffer and die a brutal death on the cross three days earlier and now his body is no where to be found. The men still didn’t believe Jesus had risen and now they had a stranger telling them wasn’t it necessary Jesus suffered?
I’ve always wondered, why do you think the men were kept from recognising Jesus?
Even though these men had so much evidence right in front of them they still couldn’t see the victory. Jesus was challenging the two men: do you only see an empty tomb, that offers no hope? Or do you see the new message of hope, that I have conquered death and have risen?
This story challenges me to ask myself where am I putting my hope: in the things I see or in what Jesus has done for me?
After Jesus had walked with these men almost the entire day, he stayed with them and shared a meal with them. Not until he blessed and broke the bread, then their eyes were opened and finally recognised Jesus (v.31).
This makes me wonder how many times have I walked with Jesus and didn’t even recognise He was right in front of me?
Cleopas and his friend were missing the point until Jesus came along and opened their eyes to see the tomb for what it really was. The empty tomb no longer meant Jesus was dead, but indeed “He had risen!” This changed everything! Jesus didn’t leave Cleopas and his friend until they heard the good news, the new message of the gospel, God’s bigger plan.
This new plan offered an exit plan for their defeat, no longer seeking hope in what they saw or in their circumstances, but one that offered a living hope in what Jesus did for them! This new plan offered a way to leave their brokenness at the cross, leave their un-forgiveness in the grave and rise up new with Jesus and walk with Him everyday in victory!
How many times have I prolonged my suffering when I choose to focus on my problems, in the evidence I see surrounding me, the emptiness of the grave. I allow myself to stay hidden from God’s living hope within me, when I choose to focus on my fears and size of my problems. Even though life isn’t exactly the way I want it right now, I have everything I need and that is enough. Will I allow these situations to defeat me or grow me?
This week as we celebrate Easter we are reminded by Cleopas and his companion where is our living hope? In the tomb that will always defeat us, or in the resurrection of Jesus?
There is HOPE for our world because Jesus is our Living HOPE. Cleopas and his friend thought there was no hope for Israel, oh how wrong they were. It may seem God isn’t answering our prayers. That there is no hope. God’s plans are always greater. What the enemy uses for evil, God will use for good (Genesis 50:20).
Please know God answers our prayers bigger than we could ever imagine. Our suffering is not for nothing and will all be used for God’s glory. If God can resurrect Jesus from the grave after three days he can resurrect our circumstances. Jesus is our Living Hope!