“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
– Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption
No matter what we do or how we eat and exercise, death draws closer, though we’re never sure how close it actually is. We look around and see suffering and injustice. We experience them ourselves. Things can look mighty bleak. In our honest moments we acknowledge that we are weak and life is short. As Scripture tells us, we are “jars of clay” – temporal, brittle, disposable, and decomposing.
It’s what we carry in these fragile vessels that really matters. The trouble of this world overwhelms us from the outside, but what treasure do we hold inside?
Andy Dufresne was on to something. Hope is a good thing, especially hope that’s based in the right things. Hope gives us a reason to press on. What followers of Jesus hold in these jars of clay is the hope of the resurrection, the hope of eternal life with Christ.
No trouble in this life can overcome the hope and reality of resurrection. How can we know this? Because the worst thing that can happen in life is death. And what is resurrection but the death of death?
If this seems far-fetched, too unrealistic, out beyond the theological or theoretical reaches of ideas, then think of the basics of the gospel we believe. “If there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith” (1 Cor. 15:13-14). Without resurrection there is no savior, and without a savior there is no hope. So we absolutely and completely place our hope in the resurrection and in the knowledge that Christ’s resurrection defeated death, so that we too can live after dying.
But what does all this mean for today? What does it mean for the troubles we face now?
It means “we do not give up,” no matter what pain we face, what persecution, what injustice, what illness, what malice, what aging, what loss. “Even though the outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).
Our pain, our mortality, and our suffering are not light and momentary in themselves, but compared to the eternal joy of resurrected life with Jesus, they are. We still hurt, but we base our hope in the best of things—death’s defeat and eternal life with Christ. This hope can carry us through anything.
Written By Barnabas Piper