In the shock wave of last Sunday’s bombings in Egyptian Coptic Churches, I find myself wondering where this world is headed. What is God up to? How could these things happen? When will the suffering end?
I am reflecting again on the scene of Palm Sunday as described in the Gospels. That day, the crowds celebrated a man they hoped would change their world—bring an end to Roman rule, establish himself as the new king, begin the years of Jubilee.
Six days later, Jesus lay dead in the grave, in the ground, behind a stone. What was God up to? How could these things happen?
We probably find it easy to understand God’s plan in retrospect when we read the Gospels, but we find it hard when everyday life (or current world events) do not turn out the way we hope.
But let’s think some more about our understanding of the word “hope.” You see, biblical hope is much greater than the hope we typically speak of. Most of the time, I use the word hope to mean wishful thinking: “I hope the teacher goes easy on the test.” “I hope the Packers win the Superbowl.” “I hope I win the lottery.”
But that is not biblical hope. Biblical hope is different. It is, in a word, living. Peter describes this hope in 1 Peter 1:3:
“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.”
Because Sunday came, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, the hope we have is alive. Our hope does not wish for things. Our hope lives because we know that the outcome is secure, even when the journey ahead is littered with questions and hardships and despair.
This Holy Week, our Egyptian brothers and sisters are devastated. But their hope still lives. They will still worship on Easter morning. And we will worship with them.
Almost every week, I encounter partners in our global work who are enduring much for the sake of Christ: persecution in Iran, famine and civil war in South Sudan, oppression in northern India and Nepal. And yet, I see the living hope of Jesus radiating from their lives.
As we celebrate the resurrection this Sunday from the peace and security of our North American homes and churches, let us be in prayer for the parts of our church body that daily face grave danger for the cross. And let us view our own disappointment and despair through the living hope of Jesus Christ.
With you for the gospel,
P.S. Thank you for your prayers and gifts that spread the hope of Jesus in the hard-to-reach places of the world.