The purpose of this article is to continue the conversation about problems of living. However, in this case, I wish to explain what hope looks like in the midst of people’s deepest problem, both spiritual and physical. Whether we are aware of it or not, or whether we are willing and ready to accept it – we will die someday. What happens after we die matters, and how we understand what happens after we die plays a direct role in how we to respond to the various problems of living which we all inevitably face throughout our lives.
The Dawn of Hope
In my previous Article, I suggested that God provides us access back to himself; that access to God comes from God directly. What exactly does this mean and how does that relate to our problems? Firstly, what it means is that despite many common notions about God – God is actually eternally loving. He is in fact inclined to provide access to himself, and that inclination is born out of his perfect and loving nature. Secondly, access to God comes at a price. Because God is perfect (the biblical term is holy), only those who are perfect (or holy) can have access to God. We need reconciliation with God; sin must be rectified in some way; not only the sin that effects the world, but the sin that effects me directly; the sin that makes me a sinner. How can sin be rectified?
Reconciliation & “Rectification”
Jesus, God’s Son, died on a cross to rectify our sin. By this, reconciliation is now possible. God accepted Jesus’ death as the death penalty sacrifice that was otherwise reserved for us had Jesus not died. Yet, the sacrifice Jesus made was completed by his resurrection thus defeating death itself and nullifying all strongholds of hopelessness that otherwise binds us in our problems of living. Let me say a slightly different way — death is no longer the worst thing that can happen to us. Because Jesus died, and what is more, because Jesus rose to life, we no longer need to fear death (the oft considered worst thing that can happen). If death truly no longer has any true sting, then all the problems of living truly pale in comparison.
A New Lens Going Forward
The story line of Jesus’ death and resurrection (AKA The Gospel) ought to be the greatest news we’ve ever heard because it becomes the source our lasting hope in the midst of even the most difficult problems of living. The gospel is by far the most important story line anyone can ever behold. And the more we consider it, the more we will see how hope can spring from even our worst problems of living.
The gospel story line has a direct impact on our every day problems of living for at least two reasons:
(1) Jesus, because he died such a terrible death, is able to sympathize with you in your most difficult situation. There is no difficulty, no hardship, no anguish of soul, no torment of your mind, and no amount of suffering or pain too difficult to understand or is even, shall I say, slightly unfamiliar to the heart of God. Why, because Jesus suffered, too. If we ever wonder how his suffering ever compares, then consider this: Jesus was totally innocent. He never committed sin, and he knew no sin. Unlike us, however, we experience our problems of the context of being sinners (more on that later).
(2) Jesus’ resurrection means our resurrection. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we will rise from the dead. And when I am resurrected, I will have a perfect body. If you are lame, no more; if you are addicted, no more; if you are fearful, no more; if you are anxious, no more; if you are suffering, in pain, know loss or grief, are angry, or sad…no more. Because Jesus rose from the dead and is living in a glorious body, we too are promised to have what he has – a renewed, glorified body where we will live forever. How is this not the greatest story ever told?
Lasting Hope in the Midst of our Problems of Living
I came into the counseling profession because I wanted to have deep conversations with people (and wanted to make a living doing so). Conversation is the most basic construct of any and every counseling relationship. In all the conversations I’ve had with folks, everything, 100% of the time, has always boiled down to this ability or capacity to narrow and align our understanding and vision for life in response to problems after problems after problems unto the gospel story line. It really does matter whether Jesus died and rose. Why does it matter? Well, because one day you will die too, and we need to be assured that sin was properly dealt with.
But what about the fact that pain, difficulty, suffering, hardship still exists? As I said before, the counseling industry exists because problems do in fact persist, and people need help. To this, I will close with three things:
(1) Jesus is with you in your pain. Yes, meet with a good counselor or even a good friend who knows your life, your heart and is ready and willing to lock arms and journey with you through a life mired with problems. But as good as even the best counselor or friend can be, they pale (infinitely so) compared to Jesus.
(2) Jesus is not only with you, he knows all about the situation you are in. He is more intimately aware than we can possibly imagine (and that is a good thing).
(3) Jesus himself will help you until you arrive home. Because he is with us, because knows about our difficulties he is also able to actually help us in our weakness. He knows the journey is long but as we cling to him for help, he will sustain our hope of heaven in a way that incrementally causes even the worst of problems to gradually fade into the background. There will be a day when our hope is realized and all our problems are forever gone and that is a lasting hope worth trusting.
Two Questions to Consider:
1. What do you think about what I’ve just said – does this make sense?
2. If this is all true, how do you see this impacting how you think about your own problems of living?