READ: 1 Corinthians 15
THINK: April 29th, 1992 marked the beginning of one of the saddest and most disturbing weeks in American History. A black motorist named Rodney King had been involved in a high-speed chase with the California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles Police Department. Upon exiting his car at the end of the chase, 4 LAPD officers – instead of simply tackling and handcuffing Rodney King – tasered him, beat him nearly unconscious with their police batons, and repeatedly kicked him in the head before handcuffing him. They claimed he had resisted arrest, but a home video shot by an observer captured the whole event and suggested otherwise. The 4 officers were suspended and tried for use of excessive force – and the Rodney King beating became a rallying point for many in inner-city Los Angeles. On April 29th, 1992, the 4 officers were acquitted of the charges against them and the outrage at that decision boiled over into violence and rioting. Thousands of people in LA rioted for the next six days, with the riots peaking in the 2 days following the verdict. There was widespread looting, assault, arson, and murder and the US National Guard had to be called in to quell the violence. All told, at the end of the week, 53 people had been killed, as many as 2,000 more had been injured, and the property damages were somewhere in the range of $1 billion.
Just a few weeks after the riots, renowned author, ethicist, and theologian Lewis Smedes was driving late at night from the Los Angeles County Airport when he was jolted to attention by a brilliantly lit billboard towering above Airport Boulevard that contained only 3 simple words in huge, striking red print: KEEP HOPE ALIVE.
He was so moved by the billboard that he wrote this, “Whether a literal reality or inner vision, that bright billboard was my awakening to the fact that there is nothing more important in this whole world than keeping hope alive in the human spirit. I am convinced that hope is so close to the core of all that makes us human that when we lose hope we lose something of our selves. And in the process we lose all reason for striving for the better life we were meant to live, the better world that was meant to be…Let me put it as badly as I can: there is nothing, repeat nothing, more critical for any one of us, young or old or anywhere in between, than the vitality of our hope…Keep hoping, you keep living. Stop hoping, you die inside.”
It’s an interesting thought: Stop hoping, you die inside. As human beings we’re wired for hope, but there are so many things in our broken world that threaten to dampen and even kill our hope every day. The good news is: as Christians we have a great hope. 1 Corinthians 15 reminds us that our hope is anchored in the resurrected Christ. He rose from the dead, he is coming back, and this life – and the death that follows – is not the end. We have eternity to hope for! Whenever life seems difficult and frustrating, whenever you feel overwhelmed and beaten down, whenever you feel that there’s no hope remember to KEEP HOPE ALIVE! Because Christ lives, so does hope.
PRAY: Thank God for the hope that is available in him! Praise him for what his death and resurrection mean for you. Thank him that you don’t need to fear death because you know it’s not the end. And ask him to help you remember to trust him even in the darkest of times so that you always keep hope alive.