For the most part, COVID-19 is finished and behind us, and it’s wonderful. No more mandatory masks, or quarantine, or isolating, or travel restrictions, or RATs and PCR tests, or publishing of infection rates and fatalities. What we’ve hoped for has arrived, and the gloom has lifted. But the realisation of this particular hope doesn’t mean that we’ve finished with hoping. We move on to the next hope, and see if it gets realised.
Human beings are hope-orientated creatures. We must always have something upon which we fix our eyes, something that shapes our planning, something that gets us out of bed each morning and gives us a sense of purpose. Our hopes affect our emotions. If a hope is realised, we have joy; if it’s threatened, there’s anxiety; if it’s taken away, there’s despair , or grief, or anger.
Occasionally, you may have this melancholic thought: how do we make sense of existence when regardless of hard work, good planning, anxieties, achievements, we all end up in the same place? How do we avoid despair when everything we can hope for in this life will one day be taken away? After all, we’ll all get beaten up by death.
For those who believe we inhabit a godless and random universe, one option is to view life as meaningless. Film director Woody Allen once said that if everything ends in destruction, nothing has any real significance at all. In light of this terrible reality of meaninglessness, he says the job of the artist is to help people understand why it’s still worth going on. He concedes this is a “tough assignment”.
Some may think of it as an equally “tough assignment”, but the hope of Christianity hinges on a seemingly implausible story, that God himself has broken into our world.
This weekend, millions of people around the world will gather to remember the old story of Jesus from Nazareth, who was crucified by the Romans in a random outpost of the Empire. The reason why Christians celebrate Easter, why it spread so quickly, is not because of what happened on Friday, it’s because of the Sunday. It’s not because Jesus was executed – after all, everyone dies – it’s because of the claims that he rose from the dead. The Apostle Paul says Jesus was “crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power” (2 Cor. 13:4).
The light of the resurrection on Sunday following the darkness of Good Friday is the reason that Christians hope that God has provided a solution to the deepest problems in this world.
Those who believe this story to be true understand this to be a hope that is eternal, and unfading, and certain, and will never disappoint. It’s about the future restoration of broken things, of sin and death and evil being conquered, justice and order emerging from chaos.
This is a hope that outlasts everything and shapes everything. So we give our everything to Him who offers this hope freely to us.