Cultivating Community in Sisters – A living hope
Last updated 4/6/2023 at 10:48am
As we approach another Easter, millions will celebrate an event that offers hope. Resurrection. Others question the reality of this resurrection, reducing it to another religious holiday. Many recognize how our world seems broken. We struggle to find solutions; hope seems to be diminishing. These troubles — whether economic, political, sociological, or psychological — are very apparent to all. They are communicated to us daily (24/7) via all forms of media. Sometimes to an overwhelming degree.
At the beginning of the 20th century we hoped for human progress. Humanism, Enlightenment, and Science would bring peace and progress. We believed, given enough time, we would solve the world’s problems. However, while we have seen advances, the progress we’d hoped for has been overshadowed by world wars, holocausts, gulags, and third world famine and poverty. The better world we had hoped for has been disappointing. Nothing more than wishful thinking. Suffering in our world is all around us. Our hearts ache!
There is no way to get through life without surviving suffering. Equally true, there is no way to survive suffering without a living hope.
Victor Frankl, psychiatrist, holocaust survivor, and author, utilized his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi Germany concentration camps to write an amazing best-selling book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In this book, Frankl observes and describes how men responded to the cruelty of the prison camps. Some men became as inhumane as the guards, taking advantage of fellow prisoners. Others just gave up and, seeing no end, curled up and died. Some placed their hope in their careers, wealth, or prestige, but these were stripped away, removing sustainable hope.
And yet Frankl offered these prisoners a higher sort of hope. A hope they could cling to. He invited them to imagine loved ones looking down on them, and then he challenged them to make their loved ones proud in the way they treated others. This envisioned reunion created a hope that could not be taken away. It gave the prisoners meaning and purpose. This was a living, transcendent hope that would not perish.
This is the living hope of Easter. This is the hope of resurrection. At the cross Jesus took the full brunt of man’s inhumanity. He was separated from family and friends and, severely beaten, he suffered and died. Easter is about overcoming. He has risen!
Nowadays, many scholars — including those who are entirely secular and have no religious stake in the matter — agree to five facts of history in regard to the life of Jesus Christ:
1. Jesus died on a Roman cross on Friday, and was buried in the tomb.
2. Jesus’ tomb was empty Sunday morning.
3. Numerous eyewitnesses testified — at great expense to themselves — that they saw Jesus alive multiple times after his death. They described how they met with him and even ate with him.
4. Even the skeptic “doubting Thomas,” as well as the mortal enemy of Christians, Saul of Tarsus, were convinced they saw Jesus, risen from the dead. They both willingly died rather than recant. James was stoned, and Paul beheaded.
5. Paul wrote historical letters listing the names of many eyewitnesses still living and able to testify to the Resurrection.
It is this miraculous resurrection that provides a living hope, a better future, another chance. In a world of hopelessness and suffering, it cannot be taken away. Jesus took all the pain and heartache, and freely offers all forgiveness, restoration, reconciliation. Death and the tomb could not hold him. Jesus’ hope is transcendent. It is a living hope. It is what Easter is all about. Let us celebrate! He has risen!
“In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,” — 1 Peter 1:3-4