Good morning Hump Day readers. Yes, it is football time again and everyone is hoping their team will be the big winner. I always find it interesting that people put their ‘hope’ in a game, or in a person, or in a big-winning lottery. We use hope in so many ways, but when the chips are down and we have our backs to the wall, it seems we vacate hope and try just about anything to get out of the mess.
Did you know that 1 out of 4 Americans think that death is the final end of their existence? This statistic blows my mind and also makes me so sad because we see these people trying any defense mechanism they can to hold on, live longer, etc. Sadly, the One who can help them is not whom they turn to.
Hopelessness is on the rise all over the globe. Right now I can’t imagine those grappling with the devastation of Hurricane Ian and Fiona. Everything is wiped out, dreams are dashed, and fear of the unknown sets in. It reminds of that old saying, “death still plays a perfect game as one out of one ends up dead.” Like Lee Strobel once said, “death has an annoying habit of being completely unpredictable.”
Strobel shares this story of a friend, Jeff, who attended his church. This friend told him about a fateful flight he had taken from Denver to Chicago. 40-minutes before they were to land at O’Hare International Airport, there was a muffled explosion, and the plane swung to the side so violently that the book he was reading violently flew out of his hands. The engine in the tail had exploded and the plane’s steering was severely crippled. As the plane approached for an emergency landing in Sioux City, it became clear that the situation was desperate. People around him began trembling—crying out from fear. Some tried to be optimistic, but Jeff took another tactic: he spent the time praying a simple prayer that was anchored in HOPE. He knew that God would take care of him and his family if he made it or he died.
The video of the plane crash was blasted from every news station around the world. Millions watched the plane scrape awkwardly onto the runway where it broke apart, cartwheeled, and finally exploded into orange flames. How did Jeff handle this? He said he braced himself for a violent death, but it never came. In fact, millions saw that his piece of the fuselage tumbled into a cornfield, where it came to a stop, upside down. Jeff hung there, suspended in his seat—with not a mark on him! He admitted being scared like never before, yet he had a sense of hope. He even spoke out to everyone from Psalm 118:6 “What can anybody do to you if your hope is in the Lord?” How did people respond—to this day Jeff has friendships with those who hung upside-down with him. They talk about faith and hope, and tell Jeff over and over how thankful they were because of his confidence.
How we face death tells us a lot about how we will face life. If our faith is bold, courageous and filled with trust in God, we are confident in God’s promises, and hope reigns in our mind, body and soul. Yet, so many people today, including those who profess faith in God, still trust in wishful thinking—which is a counterfeit version of the hope God has for us. Like Jeff, our confidence and hope is not just for us, we are to share it always whether it is in a life or death situation or not.
Pastor Andy Stanley, Pope Francis, and President Biden echoed an almost same-message a while back in the pandemic saying, “people are starving for hope, it is our job to stop the hopelessness and make a difference.” I use these 3 examples because they are 3 people whose lives are so different from one another but they get it—HOPE is for all of us, always.
So, whether you are watching your favorite team and hope they win, or heading off to a funeral from a friend, remind yourself of the power of hope and yes, the power of death. Like being an armchair referee for our favorite team makes us think they can win, death also isn’t a game we can win. But remember this, losing a football game is nothing compared to a life that is lost in hopelessness. You can make a difference and God will give you just what you need to do it, AMEN!