Have you heard the following anonymous quote about hope?
“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”
I don’t know about you, but the truth of that statement, like a dog whistle, captures an aching frequency of my heart. It seems to ring true.
What direction is the needle on your heart’s “hope-ometer” pointing?
Towards “full and hopeful” or towards “empty and despairing”?
I hate to be a downer, but death is the ultimate hope-popper.
Day after day, month after month and year after year, it appears that this dark enemy holds onto the title: The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Philosophers and theologians call death the ultimate finality of irreversibility.
Or, to say it another way, death is that which causes good things to become irrecoverable and gone.
Remember the first time you fell in love?
You held hands.
You experienced being loved and loving another.
But then things changed.
You weren’t good enough for him.
Or you lost interest in loving her because of your own broken, selfish goals.
Now that warm memory is long gone and has been thrown into the wastebasket of your life labeled: “Irreversible moments in time past that I have no hope of ever recovering!”
Like crumpled up papers, other major memories were tossed long ago into your personal irreversible wastebasket.
That childhood memory at the beach with your family.
The day you saw your first horizon to horizon rainbow.
That shameful failure you just couldn’t cover up.
That decision that determined your destiny and sent you tumbling down the stairs of life.
And oh….the divorce, the dead-end job and financial fiasco…let’s not forget those wads of waste.
As the philosopher Luc Ferry famously put it, these irreversible un-recoverables in life make us feel, in the pit of our soul, that some things in life will forever be “nevermore.”
But the Christian story challenges this depressing story of “nevermore.”
After reading the living stories of Jesus in Scripture, the oven of your cold heart begins to heat up and radiate with hope.
It is as if Jesus looks your direction with a sparkling squint in his eye and winks your way.
He holds up three fingers and says with certainty, “For all of your specific ‘nevermores’--Just give me three days.” (John 2:19)
You’ve heard the stories of his life and death. Grandma and Grandpa used to speak of Jesus as if he were really real.
But many of those memories lie crumpled in your wastebasket of irreversibles.
Could it be that these historical accounts actually happened in space and time?
You read of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
And yet, five hundred people claimed it happened. (1 Corinthians 15:6—check it out!)
Women witnessed to the wonder. In fact, the first woman that witnessed Jesus alive has been nicknamed “the apostle to the apostles!” because she sent word to the fellas who followed Jesus. What dignity.
With the truth of these stories, hope begins to warm and boil and bubble in your heart as you consider the ramifications of THE resurrection.
If the resurrection of Jesus is true, then death is dethroned and the heavyweight champion of hell is given the knock-out punch by the heavyweight champion of heaven.
The reversal of the irreversible is now and forevermore possible.
And, if even for one second, you can hope again, all of those nevermores can become once-agains.
It’s like finding the first flower bursting with color on a mountainside after a cold snow.
If that flower can outfight freezing snow, then thousands of flowers can follow and carpet the countryside with beauty.
Joy—endless, irrepressible joy- can occur since the fear of the irreversible is tossed into the wastebasket of irreversible finality.
And with this fact your crumpled, hopeless heart can now bloom like a flower in Spring.
The winds of possibility can unfurl your flagging heart and fill it with creative potentiality.
The Christian, (the one united to the living Christ by faith) tackled by death, will recover the unrecoverable.
Because He resurrected, all those that are in Him by faith will live again.
All of our memories will remain.
All that has collapsed will be restored.
All of the nevermores under the ledger-line of death will be transferred to remain under the ledger-line of hope. (Col. 1:13)
Do you believe it? (John 3:36)
He is risen. Forevermore!
Metro North Church