Thomas Fuller once wrote, “We’re born crying, live complaining and die disappointed.”
The famous author O’Henry said that “life is made of sobs, sniffles, and smiles; with sniffles predominating.
Janis Joplin, the folk singer of my generation, once lamented, “Life is something you do while waiting to die.”
Sadly these cynical and pessimistic views of life are held by many people today. The Bible, however, offer a view of life that it is confident, hopeful, positive and sees beyond this world.
In 1 Corinthians 15 as Paul comes to the grand conclusion of the validly of general resurrection based on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, he writes, “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54).
Through Jesus Christ’s resurrection, he “abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10). He guarantees our victory! The grave is not our goal! The tomb is not the end! We will win out over death! “
Yet, as we live in this world and experience the daily struggles, sorrows, and challenges of life, how does this help?
(1) The hope of the resurrection provides me with power when I feel weak.
We can experience the “exceeding greatness of His power…which He worked in Christ when he raised Him from the dead” (Eph 1:18-20). Christ’s resurrection and the promise of ours give us the strength to withstand Satan’s assaults, provides power to overcome temptation and the energy to endure life’s struggles.
(2) The hope of the resurrection offers encouragement when I’m down.
We all get down. Discouraged. Disheartened. Sometimes even depressed. Often these feelings well-up within us when we experience the separation of close earthly ties by death.
However, as Paul told of the events of Christ’s second coming and our subsequent resurrection, he ended that section by saying “Therefore encourage each other with these words” (I Thess 4:18 NIV).
I find encouragement through the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit. And through fellow Christians who encourage me with these words. For the faithful Christian death is never a final “goodbye”, but rather a “see ya later.” The fact of the resurrection makes those words real, not wishful thinking.
(3) The hope of the resurrection makes suffering, not only bearable but meaningful.
Why “fight the good fight of faith? Why “earnestly contend for the faith”? Why endure the hardship for the gospel’s sake? Why If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!”
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18-19)
(4) The hope of the resurrection gives me the strength to subdue sinful desires.
Why should I “abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul”? Why should I keep my mind pure? My heart holy? And my body undefiled? Because of the resurrection!
In warning these Corinthians against sexual sins the apostle offered this rational. “Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.”
We can have victory over sin. And the hope of a bodily resurrection gives me an incentive to fight sin. To flee from sin. And to follow righteousness.
(5) The hope of the resurrection fortifies my faith and hope when I feel futility.
I think most of us wonder at times, “Does my life count?’ “Am I making a difference?” We may even question, “Why am I alive? What do I have to offer?” “Who cares if I live or die?” My feelings of futility are vanquished when I remember Paul’s promise and affirmation.
Jesus Christ and the hope of my resurrection is the rock on which my life is built. I am anchored to that rock. My faith is firmly fixed on Jesus. And my hope is secured in the assurance that there is more to this life than just this life.
When I belong to Christ, sin cannot enslave me. The devil cannot conquer me. And death cannot defeat me.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (15:58).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman