Hope is an essential commodity for everyone, especially during the darkest moments.
When England was at the height of its struggles against Nazi Germany in World War Two, it took a leader like her Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill to use uplifting speeches to instil hope amongst the English people. Two phrases from his speeches have found their way into popular culture: “We shall never surrender” (when England was in danger of being overwhelmed by Nazi Germany) and “This was their finest hour” (referring to the Battle of Britain pilots who had averted defeat by the German air force).
When the struggle for equality and human rights for African-Americans in the 1950s and 60s seemed to tear the United States apart and face huge obstacles, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., bolstered the hopes of his followers with his now-famous “I have a dream” speech made in 1963 in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. This was fitting because Lincoln was himself responsible for abolishing slavery in the United States in the 1860s.
Closer to home, hope has also played an important part in our nation-building, especially in the critical initial years after Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in 1965.
In the context of the world, hope is about believing that things will get better, against a background of some uncertainty. However, for Christians, hope is about placing our trust in a God who is totally dependable and all-powerful, whose every promise has come true or will do so, and who has demonstrated His great love for man by sending His Son – Jesus Christ – to die for our sins on the cross. As John Piper says, “Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass.”
God’s Word foretold in the Old Testament that Jesus would not remain in the grave after His crucifixion (Psalm 16:9-11). And indeed, Christ did rise from the dead on the third day after shedding His own blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. God promised this and it came to pass. Likewise, all of God’s promises of eternal life, of always being with us, of caring for us – will surely come to pass.
Because Christ has risen, God has shown Himself true and we have hope. Because Christ has risen, we have been redeemed and we have hope. A hope that is a living hope. 1 Peter 1:3,4 states: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
Two thousand years ago, just when the disciples thought that all hope was gone, they were proven wrong. On the third day, the tomb was empty. Jesus had risen. Death was conquered. Our sins forgiven.
Christ the Lord is risen today! Hope is alive! Hallelujah!
By Dr David Loh (YCKC Bulletin 31 March 2013)