I traveled to West Virginia to help officiate my aunt’s wedding this past week. While I was in the tri-state area, I drove about 30 miles south to Olive Hill, Kentucky. It is a small town that has flooded countless times when the river swells and devours the downtown area about once every twenty years. I was the sixth generation Burchett to travel down the main street. The past generations are buried in the Burchett cemetery.
Upon visiting this final resting place on a hill near town, I was fascinated by the names on the gravestones that stand there silently honoring my family. The epitaphs on the markers there spoke of life that kept on going. While these people had clearly moved on from this life, phrase after phrase spoke of their faith in Jesus and life that goes on forever. I can imagine my third great grandfather who started the cemetery in 1850 weeping as he laid his infant daughter into her grave, or his wife and mother just four years later. His grief was probably deep, and I can imagine his visits to the hill in the 1860’s to put flowers on the grave as the civil war was being fought right down the road. While he must have felt the pain of loss, the family did not grieve like those who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NLT) says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”
Hope is in short supply when Jesus is absent. I watched a commercial last night that said, “We don’t know where hope comes from…” It has been said, “Hope is the soil that faith grows in.” Hope comes from God, himself.
Romans 15:13 (NLT) says, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
As we walk toward embracing life to the fullest in every aspect of our day, may this hope that my forefathers carved into stones begin to spring up from God to us. May you receive new hope and strength from our joyful God (Neh. 8:10) today. Our Savior came to defeat death and kill off fear, as we learn to trust Him more and more.