Summary: by Jesus's resurrection, death no longer had dominion over us
If life has a way of killing dreams, Christ’s resurrection has a way of bringing them back to life.
Life has a way of killing dreams, doesn’t it? You set out with high hopes—for your schooling, your career, your family, and your golden years. You have plans, aspirations, and expectations. But things don’t always turn out the way you expected. Plans fall through. People let you down. You let yourself down. Suddenly the life you’re living isn’t the life you dreamed of at all; or you find yourself in a place you never expected to be.
But we can have hope.
What is hope, anyway? Wishful thinking? Naïve optimism? “Hope it don’t rain,” we say. “ “Hope the sermon doesn’t go too long.” (That is wishful thinking!) Emily Dickinson tells us it’s “the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul”.
The dictionary tells us that hope is “a desire with the expectation of fulfillment.” So hope begins with a desire for something good, but then adds the element of expectation, of confidence. Without expectation, it’s just a wish. And wishes tend not to come true. When we hope for something, we’re counting on it.
But hope is more than a word - without it, we die. When a team loses hope, the game is over. When a patient loses hope, death is crouching at the door.
Viktor Frankl survived years in the Nazi concentration camps. He noticed that prisoners died just after Christmas. They were hoping they’d be free by then. When they weren’t, they gave up. He learned that as long as prisoners had something to live for, a reason to press on, they could endure just about anything. But once they lost hope, they quickly died. Dostoevsky said that “to live without hope is to cease to live.”
Bobby Knight has a different take on it. Bobby Knight, of course, is the legendary basketball coach who led the Indiana Hoosiers to three NCAA tournament finals; he was also famous for throwing chairs and chewing out officials, players, fans, and anyone in the vicinity. According to Bobby Knight, “hope” is the worst word in the English language. He says it’s foolish and lazy to tell yourself that “things are going to be all right.” They’ll only be all right if somebody steps up and does something.
Hope needs a reason. Something, or someone, that can get us to a better place. Without a reason, hope is just wishful thinking.
But for us, ‘hope’ is a who; hope is not a what, or a when, or a why. Hope is a “who.” Things don’t get better just because we want them to. They get better because somebody does something. Hope is always embodied in a person. Hope is a “who.” Somebody wise enough, strong enough, good enough, to get us to a better place.
And Jesus Christ is that someone. His resurrection proves that he is stronger than any setback, any failure, any loss, any disappointment—any fears. If life has a way of killing dreams, Jesus has a way of bringing them back to life.
That’s not to say we always get what we want, or that every bad thing can magically be un-done. Life doesn’t work that way. But it is to say that God can and will do something good with our future. Hope is the confidence that God can and will do something good. Hope is the confidence that God can and will do something good—in this life, and the life to come. Wherever you find yourself in this morning, whatever pain, loss, or disappointment you may be dealing with, God can do something good with it, or in it. That doesn’t minimize the pain or loss or evil of it. It simply means the story isn’t over yet.
In this life, we can find joy, beauty, forgiveness, healing, purpose, restoration, and the reality of God’s presence in our lives every day. In the life to come, we can look forward to reunion with those we have lost, the restoration of all creation, and to eternal life with God and one another in worlds beyond our imagining.
Hope isn’t wishful thinking—it’s confident living. It’s facing the future knowing that God can and will do something good, in this life, and the life to come.
Probably, the most unnerving thing in all our lives is the fear of death – we don’t what is going to happen, It is a fear that we will go into ‘nothingness’, a big black hole. What we are now and will become will disappear like dust in the wind.
We hope that it will be like Heaven, where we meet with our friends and family who have gone before us. That we will suffer no pain, have no disabilities, have no reason for weeping and mourning.