Last weekend, Pastor Doug preached on the topic of heaven. His sermon reminded me of a survey distributed this past Easter to the people of Shepherd of the Hills. The survey asked what came to mind when they thought of heaven. Here are some of the answers that were submitted:
“Being with God and no worries or grief.”
“Reunited with our loved ones and being embraced by Jesus.”
“Seeing the face of God.”
“Total and perfect communion with God.”
The Bible affirms those expectations. According to Scripture, heaven is to be “present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)
According to 1 Peter 1:3, faith in the risen Lord gives us “living hope.” As long as Jesus is alive, hope is alive. Our hope is lively. It energizes us. It helps us to press on. We are able to live with optimism, anticipation, looking ahead with joy and not dread. Writing to suffering believers, Peter invited them to look beyond the trials of this life to what lies ahead: “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4)
By looking ahead, we actually imitate our Savior, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) Looking ahead to the final, promised ending gives us hope in the midst of the mess.
Maybe you remember the story of the trapped Chilean miners from eight years ago. Within that story was a powerful example of hope – a story of a mother who was about to give birth to a daughter. She and her husband had chosen the name Carolina. Sadly, her husband was not able to be there for the birth. He was one of the 33 trapped miners.
While trapped, the miners were able to communicate through a video feed. The husband asked that a message be relayed to his wife. He wanted to change their daughter’s name. Instead of Carolina, he wanted her to be named “Esperanza,” which means “hope.” When his wife received the message, she responded that, believe it or not, she was going to suggest the same thing!
Days after the birth, the man was rescued and reunited with his family. Today, somewhere, an 8-year-old girl named Esperanza is a testimony to hope. In the darkness, a man said, “I’m choosing hope.”
In the darkness, we, too, can choose hope. When we do, we’re living out what God has done for us in Jesus. He has brought us into a living hope. At its very best, hope is looking past present circumstances to what lies ahead, to the heavenly goal that God has promised in Jesus. That future expectation has the power to energize us today.