Lee Strobel: We Need ‘Living Hope’ More Than Ever
Everyone is searching for hope in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet there are actually different kinds of hope. There’s blind optimism. There’s wishful thinking. There’s the kind where you cross your fingers, close your eyes and hope against hope that something good might happen. But those aren’t biblical hope.
Biblical hope is the confident expectation that God can and will fulfill the promises he has made to his followers. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
The Bible refers to this as “living hope.” Says First Peter 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.”
So our hope is firmly anchored to the resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate on Easter. I don’t know whether you’ve ever explored the evidence for the resurrection, but it was a two-year investigation of the historical facts that led me from atheism to faith in Christ. As the early church father Ignatius wrote on his way to being executed for his faith, Jesus “really and truly” rose on the third day — and that gave Ignatius living hope even in the face of death.
Thanks to the resurrection, Jesus is still alive. And thanks to the resurrection, we can be confident he really and truly is who he claimed to be — the unique Son of God. And that means that He can and will fulfill the promises he has made to his followers.
Like the promise of Romans 8:28 — that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Like the promise of Isaiah 41:10, where God says, “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Like the promise of Joshua 1:9, which says “the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
And, of course, the promise of 1 Peter 1:3-4, that there is an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. That kind of hope — living hope — is exactly what we need in the midst of this pandemic.
That’s not blind optimism. That’s not wishful thinking. That’s not crossing our fingers and hoping against hope that something good might happen. We anchor our lives to Living Hope because Living Hope is anchored to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus.
So here’s the bottom line: If God can take the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe — the death of the Son of God on a cross — and turn it into the very best thing that has ever happened in the universe — the opening of heaven to all who follow Him — then He can take whatever challenges we face and draw good from them — if we follow Him. That is the Living Hope we can have in the midst of this pandemic.
As Romans 15:13 tells us: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Lee Strobel authored The Case for Hope and is the founding director of the Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics at Colorado Christian University (www.CCU.edu/strobelcenter), where applications are open for undergraduate and graduate degrees.