Trust, Hope, Medicine, Death

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:12-28

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (v. 22)

Theologian J. Todd Billings begins his book The End of the Christian Life with this thesis: “Whether you are nineteen or ninety-nine, whether you are healthy or sick, or whether the future looks bright or bleak, true hope does not involve closing over the wound of death” (p. 11).

What Billings is saying is profound: hope and death are intimately connected. Christian hope recognizes the reality of death, unlike our death-denying culture, which Billings says places its hope and trust so much in medical care that we treat medicine as a golden calf that can fix everything (p. 105). I see the wisdom of what Billings is saying when I think about my relationship with my primary care physician. I like my doctor and have confidence in him. If he looks at something and says it’s nothing to worry about, I don’t worry about it. I trust him, but I don’t place my hope in him.

Trust is not the same thing as hope. I trust my doctors (and as I age, I am accumulating more and more of them) to provide care and, when they can, healing. But my hope is not in medicine. I know that despite their sincere and good efforts I will die someday. That’s alright, because my hope is in the one who conquered death. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death,” Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:26). That’s where our hope lies. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, talk to God about your health and where your hope ultimately lies

About the Author

Jeff Munroe
Jeff Munroe

Jeff Munroe is the editor of the Reformed Journal and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

This entry is part 10 of 15 in the series Hopeful, Not Optimistic