My friend, Bruce Catlett passed away last Sunday, and in his last few months, he had grown especially close to a few friends. One of them texted me last night, and I asked him how he was handling the death of his close friend. He answered that he was doing fine… he was just longing to be where Bruce now is, in heaven with Jesus.
Ultimately, that is what gives him hope. That is what gave Bruce hope. That’s all Bruce could talk about, especially in his last days.
That is what gives me hope and is what gives you hope as well, I’m sure.
Hope is what sets us apart, as Jesus-followers. Hope is what gets us through terrible days. Hope is what gets someone like Bruce and Donna through the sickness which results from chemo treatments. Hope is what makes us victorious, both in the “here and now” and for eternity. And according to the apostle Paul, faith and love are birthed from hope. Hear the words of Paul:
We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. (Colossians1:3-5, NLT)
Faith and love come from hope. There it is. In this case, it was music to Paul’s ears. He had heard that the church he had planted in Colosse was making an impact. They were spreading the love of Jesus Christ, most certainly by just living their lives in front of the folks around them. They were different from the culture. They had hope. And news travels fast… especially good news. It made it all the way to Paul’s prison cell in Rome.
We have that very same hope. And our good news – the hope that we have in Christ Jesus and the work He has done for us – shows itself in faith and love. It shows itself in very much the same way as it’s done for centuries: by just living it authentically (not perfectly) in front of a watching world. It’s not easy and I am embarassed by my behavior in so many ways on so many occasions. But because of Jesus’ love for me (and you), I know that I live in the unshakeable Kingdom of God. I am a Kingdom-dweller. I am a follower of Jesus. My hope is borne out of my identity (which is permanent) and not my behavior (with is temporary). That is where my hope comes from.
And although I, too, would love to be with Bruce and Jesus, I know that as long as I’m still here, there’s still the Good News of hope to be spread.