“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
How many times have you been asked to share the reason for the hope that is in you?
Surprisingly, it hasn’t happened to me very often. However, I have found myself on several occasions talking with someone who seems to have no hope. When people betray a sense of hopelessness and despair in conversation, I always get a little nervous because I see God opening a door for me to share about the hope that I have in Christ.
I worked as a nurse aid for a couple years before coming to Physician Assistant school and I always wrestled with what to do when a patient seemed like they were upset, in pain, discouraged about a diagnosis, or anxious about a test result. What words of hope could I share that would be meaningful? “It’s going to be okay, it will get better…” I can’t promise those things, and really this probably means very little to someone in the midst of something so painful and difficult. I came to realize that the only hope I have to share is Christ. I don’t have hope in this life, my health, my job, my family or friends, my wealth (or lack thereof). All these things can be taken away, but my hope is in knowing God in this life and spending eternity with Him in the next.
I was recently chatting with a friend who has been dealing with some physical pain and it drove him to say, “Sometimes I wonder why we struggle to live when death is inevitable. What is it that we have on this planet that makes us fight so hard? And if we don’t have anything worth struggling for, then why bother fighting at all?” I had to admit that those are good questions and I paused for a few minutes to answer them for myself. He has a point; if death is inevitable and there is nothing we can find worth living for, why do we “keep calm and carry on”? It’s funny how pain causes us to question the goodness of life and wonder what the point of it is. One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, once said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, and shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
It is illogical to try so hard to live if you have no reason to, so the only options are to live in accordance with your hopeless belief or find a reason to live. For me, the choice is obvious. I want to believe in God and in His story, the gospel, because it is the only thing that makes living life bearable—it gives me a reason to live, it gives me hope, and it has answers for difficult questions about pain and suffering.
The bummer is when people chose to reject God; when they can’t accept the story of God’s crazy love for them because, let’s face it, it is rather absurd. How could the God who created everything not only take an interest in me but also send His son to die on the cross to pay the penalty that my sins deserve? Christ experienced anguish so that we might know true joy; He was cast off so that we might be brought in; He was wounded for our transgressions so we might be healed from our sin; He died so that we could live. It makes no sense, and that’s why it takes faith to believe!
It breaks my heart when I hear people say they would rather live with their hopeless belief than choose to believe in the good news of the gospel. Talking to my friend about my hope in Christ and having him reject it gave me a taste of what sorrow God must feel when we reject Him. Thankfully, God doesn’t burden us with the task of salvation, which is all His work. He just asks that we be faithful to give testimony to the hope we have in Him. May God be glorified as we boldly proclaim our hope in Christ so that our lives bear may witness to God’s incredible love!