Written by Rev. Nicholas Davelaar
Originally published in the Courier of Russellville, Arkansas on January 16, 2015
What is your only comfort in life and in death? To put the question differently, what gives you hope for your life today and your death in the future?
Many people in our world set their hope on money, possessions, and other forms of wealth. The futility of that is probably obvious to most of us. No matter how useful money, possessions, and the like can be, they don’t last forever. Furthermore, even while they do, they cannot give us lasting happiness, much less keep us from aging and eventually dying.
Most of us probably understand that and pity the people whose hope is in their wealth. We’re glad we have a better hope, maybe a hope and strength that comes from loving family and friends. We love them, and they love us. We know they would do anything for us. That’s a big encouragement in the midst of life’s uncertainty and sorrow. Yet, just like money, possessions, and the like, family and friends will ultimately disappoint us. No matter how loving or faithful they are, they cannot be or do everything we need them to. They can give us only so much hope in life, and none in death.
Maybe you’ve come to realize that. Maybe you’ve learned that the hard way. As a result, you now hope in yourself. Your only comfort in life and in death is now that you are a faithful, strong, and good person who will succeed in life and be warmly welcomed by God in death. That, however, is also an empty hope. Most notably, the Bible clearly tells us that none of us can be good enough or make ourselves good enough (Romans 3:9-20).
What is your only comfort in life and in death? Do you have firm hope for life and death?
Listen to how one of the Protestant reformers asked and answered this question over four hundred years ago:
“What is your only comfort in life and in death?”
“That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”
“He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.”
“He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.”
“Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
How’s that for hope? A hope not in what you have, or who you are, but instead in belonging to the once crucified and now risen and exalted Son of God.
Think about that.
For further study, read Romans 14:7-9.