Isn’t hope a great word? Are you like me and many times you need a little hope or lots of hope? This is one of those weeks. Terrorists killing fellow citizens in San Bernardino drive home the fact that the world is broken and complicated. How can a dad and a mom drop their infant off at the grandmother’s house, head over to a Christmas party, and massacre their coworkers? It gets more complicated when you consider the part that radical Islam plays in this young couple’s worldview.
Are you like me and many times you need a little hope or lots of hope?
How are we to have hope when radical Islamic terrorists reign pain and anguish on innocents – 21 shot and 14 murdered? These fourteen victims represented individual families, had dreams, anticipated Christmas plans, and enjoyed life. As they celebrated Christmas, a husband/dad/coworker bursts into the room with his deranged wife and begins to blow them all away. Not because they threatened him or her. Not because they repressed him or her. Not because they deserved to be murdered. They were violently mowed down by Islamic extremists who followed their religious beliefs.
How are we to respond to this kind of tragedy and senseless slaughter?
Jesus helps us. Jesus provides us hope.
Take a moment with me to observe an intimate scene in the life of Jesus as He was talking with His disciples (John 16). This was immediately before Jesus’ arrest, bogus trial, His scourging, and His crucifixion. As Jesus talks with his disciples, He previews his imminent persecution and their personal loss. He remarks, “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy” (16:20). He describes the lonely hours ahead, their betrayal, and God’s presence with Him.
Don’t miss this if you want hope – notice what He says right before He prays for the disciples (John 16:33).
“These things I have spoken to you,
that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation;
but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world.”
Friends, there is hope. Our hope is in Jesus. Notice how He helps His disciples maintain their footing as they faced imminent hardship.
Peace and Hope are in Jesus.
He identified where there is true peace – in Him. We certainly understand it in different terms than they in the moment, but we recognize that true peace is in Jesus. Because we are born sinners, we have built-in conflict in our relationships with God and others. The Bible describes us as enemies (Ephesians 2:1-3; 11-13). We could not have a relationship with God and our relationships with each other were in a permanent state of sin-caused damage. However, by God’s grace He offered us a reconciled relationship with Him through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (2:4-10); plus, He also reconciles us with each other (2:14-22). When we receive forgiveness of our sins from God through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, we are known as those ‘in Him’ or ‘in Christ’ (2:4-10). So in order to have true hope – characterized by peace – we must first have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Life on earth is not easy.
In addition, He lets us know that life will not be easy. That’s an understatement, isn’t it? He says, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Tribulation here means trouble, stress, struggle, and distress. You will be pressured – especially as it gets closer to the second return of Jesus for the church. In many ways, the entire world puts increasing levels of pressure on us as we strive to live for Jesus in a very broken world as this week demonstrates. Bottom line…this should not surprise us. Life was never promised to be easy and without distress, even though we most certainly do not enjoy it.
Jesus overcame the world!
Jesus does not leave us here though! He says, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!” He wants us to be encouraged – to have hope – because in His death, burial, and resurrection, He overcame the world. He defeated death. He defeated sin. He defeated the Devil. He gives life and joy not sorrow and death. Jesus gives us a better perspective.
Think about it…
…we see past the darkness and see the light.
…we see past the present and see the future.
…we see past the horror and see the healing.
…we see past the evil and see the good.
…we see past the hate and see the love.
…we see past the defeat and see the victory.
…we see past death and see life.
…we see past the hopelessness and see hope.
So how do you respond today to the tragedy all around us?
- Thank Jesus for overcoming the world
- Read the Bible and contemplate the joys of the gospel
- Focus on eternity and not the events of the day
- Celebrate that Jesus willingly died to pay for your sins and give you life
- Ask Jesus to provide salvation to the terrorists
- Seek ways to impact those around you with the love of Christ
- Look for opportunities to share Jesus Christ with those around you
- Stop to celebrate the first advent of Jesus Christ in the manger and look forward to the second advent of Jesus Christ