Hope springs eternal. But sometimes it can wear thin.
Take, for example, that wrinkled, childless centenarian Abram, whose name means “exalted father.” Imagine his wan smile when, still childless, God changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.”
If it were me, I wouldn’t rush to update my business card.
Somehow, though, Abraham still believed God. How did he maintain his faith and hope in the face of the impossible? How do we?
I think you can categorize life’s difficulties in two ways. In the first category, we can place those things where God’s grace can affect change in the here and now. These are things like addictions, vices, and rocky relationships, even childlessness. In these areas, we know God wants the best for us, and we should pray for his help and grace.
In the second area, we can place the seemingly impossible situations in life. A dead child, an unrecoverable marriage, incarceration, terminal cancer. These are the times we have to pray that famous prayer, “Help me to accept the things I cannot change.” God’s grace is still abundant, but it is grace that heals our hearts, not necessarily changes our circumstances.
In the twentieth century, over 100 million people were killed in wars. Think of their desperation in the final moments of their lives. For them, there was literally no hope. Not in this life anyway.
In the face of the impossible, in the face of death, the only hope is the eternal.
The hope of heaven—the certainty of eternal bliss with a loving God—is the core Christian promise. Hanging all our hope on that reality is often the only way to cope with the impossible.
In seven days, we will remember an awful, grisly, seemingly irrevocable death. The apostles surely placed the death of Jesus in that second category, the category of the impossible. I imagine on Saturday, they prayed for God’s grace, desperate for comfort, but they didn’t necessarily expect a miracle.
They mis-categorized the situation. God gave Abraham and Sarah a child, which demonstrates God’s power to affect the here-and-now. But the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the miracle of miracles, is what gives us eternal hope. “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.” This reality is what launched the apostles from deep grief into a worldwide mission.
So take your impossible situation and put it in the tomb with Jesus. Place it next to his body and pray for an Easter miracle. Even if it doesn’t happen, you still have heaven.
Hope, hope, and keep hoping. Nothing is impossible with God.