One year ago, as I write this, was an extremely difficult time for me and many of my friends and family. The Minnesota State Fair had wrapped up, another Labor Day weekend enjoyed with family, and school had begun when I received a call from Dan, one of my closest friends for the past 31 years. His wife and two boys were out of town visiting family. He needed a ride to North Memorial Hospital. The pain was unbearable, due to the cancer that was spreading through his body. He would not be returning home this time.
Within a 10-day span in early September 2013, I lost three dear friends to cancer. My heart ached greatly, and the tears throughout those days showed the grief and deep sadness within. A pastor I worked with told me that at this stage of my life, one really begins to hate the “C” word.
It’s not just grandparents or parents; now it’s peers. Cancer had just taken the lives of three wonderful people whom I loved. Don, almost 80 years old, was my first mentor who discipled me in the faith. Gary, in his late 50s, became a trusted friend during my pastoral internship. And Dan, 50 years old, I had met in my first year of college. We became lifelong friends who would see the lives of each other unfold with relationships, marriage, children, work, ministry, mountaintops and valleys.
During those days of trial, we cried a lot, sat in disbelief, told funny stories, gave big hugs and reflected on our relationships. And most important, we held close in our hearts a timeless message of great hope, a living hope. We proclaimed it to one another! This one message is what brought such great peace and healing. That message is simply and powerfully this, “Jesus, our resurrection and living hope!”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials ….” (1 Peter 1:3-6).
Peter, an apostle of Jesus, knew of this hope of the resurrection in Christ. Peter writes that this living hope, that you and I can experience, is first of all given to us because of God’s rich mercy toward us. What a great and merciful God who wants to give us living hope in this life!
And Peter writes further that we can rejoice in this living hope—a genuine rejoicing, even in the midst of various trials. That is a hope I desire to know and live out!
The apostle Paul also experienced and taught of the solid foundation of hope we have in Christ through the resurrection. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians that without the death and resurrection of Jesus, our preaching is in vain, and our faith is futile. Without the sure message of the resurrection hope that we have in Jesus Christ, there truly is no hope or joy in living, and death wins.
But I was rejoicing a year ago, and I rejoice today that death is swallowed up in victory and death has no sting! In Christ, and in the power of His resurrection, there is hope. A living hope. A genuine hope that sustains you and me in these days that unfold before us, and a hope that brings life, not death.
What trials have you faced or are facing that have you seeking for a sure and living hope? It’s not a matter of “if” you and I will face various trials, but rather “when” and “how often.” Life happens.
I want to encourage you that in the midst of whatever you are facing—the difficult trial you are weathering—there is a living hope. This hope is found only in Jesus Christ and His resurrection!
My friend, Dan, clung to Christ and was a witness to the living hope one can have in this life and life forever more. Live on in hope!
— by Kurt Linn
Linn is pastor of The Crux, a new cell-church plant in the Twin Cities. He and his wife, Kim, and their children live in Roseville.