I recently experienced both ends of the human life cycle in one morning. My wife and I went to the hospital first thing in the morning to visit a young couple and their newborn baby girl. We left the hospital to attend a graveside service for the Dad of one of our staff members.
At the hospital there were smiles abounding. A new life, full of potential had entered the world. I could not help but think of the blessings this young lady has from the start. Born in a great country. Born into a loving family. There is great potential for a beautiful life that glorifies God. Joy rooted in anticipation is the best way I can describe our emotions.
There was sadness at the graveside, but mixed in that sadness was joy similar to what I felt at the hospital. How could that be? The graveside service was led by the Pastor of our co-worker’s Dad. It was completely in Spanish. Unfortunately, I only know a few words of Spanish. But one word I do remember is because of the beautiful plant pictured. It is an Esperanza, the Spanish word for ‘hope’. A phrase that I heard multiple times in the graveside service was “esperanza en Jesucristo”: “Hope in Jesus Christ.”
I suppose it was because I only understood this one phrase in the midst of all that was said that it drove home the reason for the joy: This man had placed his faith in Christ alone for His salvation and God the father graciously placed him “in Christ”. There was truly “hope in Jesus Christ!”
Hope in the scriptures is not a synonym for “wish”. Hope is ‘looking forward to something with a reason to have confident expectation it will come to pass.’ In the case of this burial, the mourners could confidently hope in seeing their loved one again because Jesus Christ will resurrect those who have placed their faith in Him for salvation. What a comfort for believers! Paul gave this reassurance to the Thessalonian believers.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” (1 Thes. 4:13–14, NLT)
Hope for a future in Heaven is found exclusively through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sins. Do you have this hope?
David Harris is the Senior Pastor at Faith Baptist Church. A former programmer, in his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife Kim and trying his hand at the illusive craft of smoking meat.