How the power and surprise of hope can impact your family

Written by Dustin Bates
Published on April 10, 2020

Every year, our church embarks on a series of risks that we feel like the Lord is asking us to take. One of those risks this year was to have our biggest Easter Weekend ever. We rented out one of Allen High School’s football fields and the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas for a massive community Easter Egg Hunt and for our ‘Hope is Here’ Easter Service. Over the past couple of weeks, as the world has changed rapidly due to COVID-19, so have our plans. We have moved all of our services, including Easter, to online streaming platforms, and are working to have a ‘Drive Through Easter Egg Hunt’, to try to bring joy to the community, while still practicing social distancing. As we prepare for this, I’ve been thinking about the power of hope and how it can impact our lives and families, especially during such uncertain times.

The disappointment of unmet expectations

There’s a story in Luke 24 about two men who had believed that Jesus was the Messiah but left Jerusalem, their hope lost, after Jesus was crucified. 

As they were walking, Jesus came and walked with them, but they didn’t recognize him. The three of them discussed Jesus’ death. Verse 21 says they had “hoped that [Jesus] was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” 

To me, this passage indicates what can happen when you meet the disappointment of unmet expectations. They thought Jesus was going to be the Messiah, but it was now the third day and it seemed like he was gone. 

I’m not sure if there is anything that will destroy your hope quite like a long period of waiting. We can have expectations about our families, our children, or our circumstances. When they aren’t met, our hope can begin to die. I believe this is what happened to these two men: they had hope and believed that Jesus was going to be the prophesied Messiah. But when they saw him die on a cross, their hope died with him.

The sign of empty places

For me, there are many times that my hopes are high. 

For example, I’ve been a Seahawks fan since I was born and raised in Washington. All during a football season, my hopes will be high that we will go all the way. If we happen to be having a losing season, as game after game goes by, my hope diminishes. 

Have you ever been in that place, where you once believed in something but now you aren’t sure if you can pull it off? It’s always easier to look at something in hindsight and have hope, but, in the moment, it can be difficult to believe. 

We can read this story in Luke and wonder why these two men didn’t have hope, but the reality is that they saw Jesus crucified and their expectations felt unmet. We need to be careful that, when Jesus comes in a way different from what we expected, we don’t miss him. 

When the men saw an empty tomb, they thought God had failed and they lost hope. I think many of us have empty places in our lives that have caused us to lose hope. 

But, maybe the empty places in our lives are a sign that God is working. 

This story in Luke takes place on a Sunday morning, which means that Jesus had already risen. But, because the two men couldn’t see him, they didn’t think he was there. An empty place could be a sign that God is working on behalf of you, your family, and your life.

Silent Saturday 

It’s interesting that everyone talks about Good Friday but few talk about Silent Saturday. 

Silent Saturday, the day between the death of Christ and the resurrection, always leads me to ask, “How do we keep hope when God seems silent?”

The Bible says that on Silent Saturday Jesus took away the keys to death, hell, and the grave so that we can have eternal life. We can walk in the newness of life because of what Jesus accomplished on that day. Silent Saturday is proof that, even when God is silent, it doesn’t mean he isn’t working on your behalf. 

If I’ve learned anything about God, it’s that he is a specialist at filling empty spaces.

Surprised by hope

I travel fairly frequently with work, and my family has started the tradition of me bringing back surprises for my two sons whenever I’m away. Even if it’s something small, these gifts are something my kids know they can count on happening. 

Whenever I come home, gifts in hand, I always tell my kids, “Close your eyes,” before I give them their presents. I don’t do this because I’m getting ready to run away or leave them empty-handed. I do this because I’m trying to surprise them. 

I wonder if God is trying to surprise us. 

His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). At some point, you have to hold onto the hope that he wants good things for your life and that he is able to make that happen.

Religion has tried to tell us that we can show up on Easter Sunday and check it off a list, but the hope of Jesus Christ is in an everyday relationship. 

I used to think that God would only show himself to people with big faith. But this story in Luke reveals that Jesus shows up to people just because they need him. Jesus is drawn like a magnet to the needs of people because he is the hope of the world. 

Since Jesus didn’t rise from the dead halfway, the hope in your life doesn’t have to be in half measures. He wants you to walk in full hope, full peace, and with the knowledge that he will never leave you or forsake you. 

No matter what made you lose your hope, we serve a God who does his best work in the silent times of our lives. 

Hope isn’t just in the past. Hope doesn’t reside just in the future. Hope is here—now.

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Dustin Bates

Pastor Dustin Bates is the Lead Pastor at Church Eleven32, a fast-growing, multi-site church based in Allen, TX. Together with his wife, Jamie, they have two boys, Jude and Genesis. After pastoring in Washington state with his dad, Dustin and his wife founded and pastored The MVMNT youth ministry that grew from fifteen students to over five hundred in three years. Dustin also founded programs such as The Preschool, The Academy, and The Internship at Church Eleven32. He travels nationally and internationally to preach and empower leaders in Christian and secular sectors across the globe.

Read more about Dustin

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