“If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, 
we are of all people most to be pitied.”
(1 Corinthians 15:19)

"Christ and St. Mary Magdalene at the Tomb" by Rembrandt van Rijn

"Christ and St. Mary Magdalene at the Tomb" by Rembrandt van Rijn

If there’s a theme to my life, it’s hope. There are plenty of other good themes for a life—faith, love, joy, peace, kindness. But mine is hope.

Hope is the theme of my life because without it I’m sunk. It’s not that I’m some incurable optimist or because I think we need more saccharine Pollyannas in this world. It’s because I’ve seen enough of the world’s darkness to need to believe in the sunrise. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to have hope. It decided for me. Hope chose me. 

These Lenten devotionals over the past six weeks have been such a gift to me. I’m sad to see them end. How good it’s been for us to share our stories with each other—our longings, our fears, and those small windows where the light of God’s mercy has splintered through. Continually and regularly these reflections have led me to consider my brokenness, my emptiness, and the truth that with God, all I need is need.

But these devotionals have also stirred in me a longing for hope. From the shadows of Lent, from pining over sin, from a recognition of the deep brokenness (both in the world and in me), I find myself longing. I’m creeping forward as if on tiptoe, peeking around the corner for good news. 

And today is Easter. Hallelujah! Christ is Risen! Just when we needed it most, Hope strides triumphantly from the grave.

Hope is the theme of my life because of Easter. Yes, hearts are broken. Dreams are crushed. Earthly prospects are dim. But the tomb is still empty. Jesus is still raised. He still invites world-weary followers, “Put your hands here.” See that I am alive. Take heart. Have hope. 

Jesus’s Easter resurrection from the dead, after three frightful days entombed in death, is our invitation to a life of hope. Not a hope that shuts its eye to life’s most harrowing realities. A hope that sees through the pain of this life to new life, to the new heavens and the new earth, to eternal life secured for all who believe, signaled now ahead of time by a resurrected Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul writes, “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Hope is not simply a positive feeling meant to make it a bit easier to get through our lives. Hope is the certain reality that we are made (and are being re-made) for another life. 

Sin and death have tried their best to silence hope. And they will again. They will kick and scream and work to crush our fragile hearts. But thanks be to God who has given us victory through Jesus Christ. He’s a good, good Savior with kindness in his eyes. As he met Mary that first Easter morning and asked, “Why are you weeping?” he does the same for you this morning. As He greeted a group of his friends later that Easter evening, saying, “Peace be with you,” so he does the same for you today. 

Our faithful friend Jesus calls us now to Easter Hope. Risen Hope. Living Hope. May that be the theme of our lives together.

(Written by Erik Bonkovsky)