In college I got to help out at a week-long camp for kids with disabilities. These kids suffered from all sorts of severe physical and mental disabilities, yet they were such a joy to be around.
There was a boy there who was in a wheelchair because he couldn’t stand or use his limbs very well. After they heard a talk about Christ’s saving work on the cross and the hope of heaven the boy turned to my friend and said something I’ve often thought about. He said, “I can’t wait until heaven so I can give you a hug like a man.”
Even now I’m moved by both the pain he suffered and the hope he had in Christ.
The importance of hope:
Hope is vital to us as people. People work harder and happier when they have job security. As long as hope remains people can go on. Take away all hope and you take away all motivation to do anything.
In 1 Samuel, the Philistines were overflowing with hope while their great warrior Goliath was undefeated and unchallenged. Yet once he was struck down by David, they fled. Just one warrior killed and they ran! The Lord didn’t take away their tactical advantage, fighting skill or numbers. He took away their hope. People will retreat in fear when hope is taken away.
A glimmer of hope:
As a result of this people are always attaching their hope to something. It may be possessions, money, relationships, success, influence, a career, a great cause. As Tim Keller said, “When everyone lays their head on the pillow they subconsciously say ‘As long as I have _______ I will be okay.’”
Many of those things are good things but they can never fully fulfill our hope. They are like movies made about good books, they always fall short or leave something out.
Christ, our hope:
In Lord of the Rings the evil Sauron has nine “Riders” who are clothed in black. The sound of their cry chases hope away from the heart. Everyone who is even near to them is overcome with sorrow, fear and hopelessness.
However, the enemies of Sauron have a comfort: Gandalf. Aragorn in The Two Towers says this about their hope inspiring leader:
“The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One, mightier than they: the White Rider. He has passed through the fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him. We will go where he leads.”
We have a hope infinitely more comforting: Christ. He’s reconciled us to himself by the blood of his cross (Col 1:21). He’s committed to our transformation to be more like Him (Php 1:6). He’s preparing a place for us in heaven (John 14:2). There we will have a home not made by hands, but a home more beautiful than we could imagine. In heaven there will be no tears or sorrow or sickness or death (Rev 21:4). There we will have new bodies that have everything God made us to have (2 Cor 5:1). There we will be fully transformed to be like Jesus (1 John 3:2).
Our heavenly inheritance is waiting. Therefore, “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord not for men. Knowing that from the Lord we will receive the inheritance as our reward.” We can live with hope.
Paul in 2 Cor 5:1-10 says he groans for our heavenly dwelling. Paul was well acquainted with the brokenness and less than fulfilling hopes of this world. He lived life with reckless abandon for Christ because of the hope of his heavenly inheritance. The question is are we living life in such a way that we desire heaven sooner rather than later.
One day the young boy from Capernaum camp will stand, walk, run, jump, dance and he will give many hugs to many people including his heavenly father. His hope will become a reality, and I for one hope I get to witness.