The Gift Of Hope!
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-19; Romans 15:13; Romans 8:18; 1 Corinthians 15:58
On April 9, the last survivor of the Doolittle raid, retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole passed away at the age of 103. It saddens me to say that prior to today, I knew little, if anything, about that heroic feat that made such a difference in World War II. The country had been shocked on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The following four months saw further incursions by the Japanese, and on February 23, 1942 an oil refinery near Santa Barbara was even shelled by them. I wasn't alive, but I can't help but wonder how frightening those months must have been. Who really knew what might happen next? Then, on April 18, 1942, 80 volunteers launched a surprise attack from the U.S.S. Hornet. Sixteen B-25s with a crew of five men in each took off from that carrier. Their mission was to drop bombs on military targets in Tokyo as well as other nearby cities. Richard Cole was Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot in that endeavor. Besides the targets that were destroyed, at least two things occurred as a result of that raid:
First, the people of Japan who had been told that their homeland was impenetrable, learned that wasn't true.
Second, the raid brought encouragement to the allies, boosting morale. Although many difficult years lay ahead for the allies, what those men did that day provided hope at an opportune time.
The need to be buoyed up by hope didn't end when victory came for the allies in 1945. Is there ever a time when each of us doesn't need hope? The beautiful truth is that in Jesus, we have real hope, and we celebrate that gift all year long, but especially as we think about Easter.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-19, Paul cuts to the chase concerning hope. He begins laying out the reason we can have any hope at all. It is Jesus and Him alone. It is because He accomplished what the scripture predicted He would do. That is, He died, was buried and rose in triumph! Paul holds out another awesome truth. If Jesus didn't rise-which He did do-we have no hope, and we remain unforgiven. Life is nothing but hopelessness if Jesus didn't do what God promised. Paul holds out more hope. Think of it. There were many people who saw Jesus after His resurrection. For example, Jesus was seen by all the apostles as they were together in a group. Both Peter and James evidently had a one-on-one with Him, and one group who saw the Savior contained 500 people. It wasn't merely one person who made a claim that Jesus was alive. The truth was declared by the many. All those people saw Him, declaring that He was truly alive, but the apostle still had one more proof to share with us.
Jesus also appeared to him, 1 Corinthians 15:8. The Lord that he had persecuted knew his name and had a plan for his life, Acts 9:1-6. That was a post-ascension appearance, and because Jesus is alive, we, like Paul have hope for eternity that also spills over into our current circumstances. Romans 8:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:58 tell us why this is true.
We have hope in the here-and-now because Jesus is taking special notice of both what we suffer and what we do in His Name. Please know that I don't write these words in a flippant way, not understanding that what many suffer is causing, even now, a great deal of pain.
Just this week, I heard the story of a pastor's wife in Malaysia whose husband was taken away by the police about two years ago. She was honest about both her pain and her struggle with her emotions as she forgives those who were responsible for the disappearance and possible death of her husband.
Jesus Who understands our pain, having undergone His own suffering, Hebrews 5:7, wants us to know that what we will receive from Him will be infinitely greater than our pain here, Romans 8:18. So hard for us to comprehend; yet, from this truth, we receive hope. In addition to this, 1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us that no work that we do for Jesus will be in vain. Regardless of the outcome that we see here on earth, we have hope because it is God Who keeps the books. Not only does He take note of our tears, Psalm 56:8, He also sees and will reward our faithfulness.
Thank You Lord that You are the God of all hope, Romans 15:13. Please show us how to share Your Hope with others, as You enable us.