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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Hope defeated? | Hope Deferred

The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.

Luke 24:20-21

‘We had hoped…’

Those words so eloquently sum up what Jesus’ followers must have been feeling after his crucifixion. All hope seemed lost. They had been starting to believe he really might be the promised Messiah, but now…

Many of us have faced – and possibly are still living through – dashed hopes: the death of a friend or relative, the desire for children who will now never come, the longing for a career or position that is now closed.

How does this story speak to those situations? After all, the disciples were wrong – Jesus was alive; their hopes only seemed destroyed. For many of us, that’s just not the case. Our hopes really are gone and we are often overwhelmed with grief.

There is nothing wrong with that. We need to grieve over lost dreams and crushed hopes, and there are strong biblical precedents for lamenting and taking time to process our emotions.

Yet the comfort and the hope of Easter is that this world is not all there is. Though the death of Jesus was real and true, it was not the full picture. Even his resurrection wasn’t the dramatic comeback and overthrow of the Romans that the disciples were expecting.

Jesus’ message on the road to Emmaus was not simply ‘I’m alive’, but ‘you’ve been thinking about this all wrong.’ The disciples wanted tangible victory in the here and now, but Jesus opened their eyes to a much wider and more glorious reality.

The road ahead would be hard – the rest of the New Testament is unequivocal about that; suffering and pain are part of the picture – but for those who are in Christ, these earthly trials are not the end.

As we ponder Jesus’ sufferings and resurrection in the coming days, let us take comfort in the amazing truth that hopes which seem defeated are in reality just deferred:

‘Therefore we do not lose heart… for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (2 Corinthians 4:16).

‘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’ (Romans 15:13).
For Further Reflection

  1. We started this series noting that the Bible is clear that not everyone will receive what was promised to them in this life. How does this fit with your understanding of what is to come?
  2. How can an understanding of the fact that there’s more to life than what we can see or understand help you to deal with broken dreams or encourage others?

Enjoyed this series? Why not try other recent series ‘Love Commandments’ or ‘Wrestling with God: Habakkuk


Jennie Pollock