Sisyphus and the One Name
by Pastor Gene
I can think of no darker words than these two: no hope. Craig Biehl called them the two unbearable words. He writes: “Two small words. When heard on the battlefield, in the hospital waiting room, or in our darkest thoughts, they bring despair. Two words that carry such anguish that no one can withstand their power … where no hope exists—we are undone.”
Have you ever spoken to someone without hope? The despair is deep and all encompassing. But the truth, hidden from the eyes of the world, is that, without Christ, we are all without hope.
It’s understandable, I think, that the devil would do all he can to prevent unbelievers from coming to terms with this. And so he does. Scripture tells us that the “god of this world” (literally, the ‘god of this age’) blinds “the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Were the world to see things as they truly are, even for a moment, they would sink into a hopeless despair.
Many of history’s deepest thinkers – especially the existentialist philosophers – thought long and hard about the seeming absurdity of life. Kierkegaard, Sartre, Camus – all of them walked to the edge of the abyss and peered in. None of them liked what they saw.
Camus explored the question of life’s absurdity in his book, The Myth of Sisyphus. You might remember the story of Sisyphus. He was the figure from Greek mythology who was condemned to the futile task of forever pushing, pushing, pushing a boulder up a mountain only to watch it roll back down again. Life is absurd like that, he argued. So, in his book, Camus thought he need to suggest reasons, considering how absurd life is, for one not to take his or her own life!
Happy stuff, right?
Existentialism argues that the problem of the absurdity of life can only be resolved by finding a purpose to live. Among them, only Kierkegaard came to see God as that purpose.
Many of these deep thinkers were brought to a place of utter despair by their agnosticism/atheism. Jean-Paul Sartre called this realization of life as it truly is ‘nausea’ and made it the title of his famous novel about existential angst.
But here’s the thing: they were right. Life is absurd, life is meaningless, life doesn’t make sense – without God, that is. Why were they brought to this point of despairing? Because, unlike most, they actually bothered to ask the questions. Most do not.
Most move through life going from one point to another, one job to another, one promotion to another, being entertained into imbecility, and being far too distracted to ever ask what life is really all about. If perchance they did – if they ever, like these thinkers before them – found their way to the edge of the abyss and peered in, they’d see in its mirror their own hopelessness, their own lostness.
And that would be seeing things aright. For Holy Scripture could not be clearer: without Christ, there is no hope. For “there is salvation in no One else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
One name, not many.
Jesus, no other.
And the reason for this is clear enough: He and only He paid the terrible price for our sins. He died for us; He died as us. And He rose again from the grave to show all the watching universe that death had no power over Him.
Billy Graham once said, “For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.” Amen and amen!
This astonishing truth caused the Apostle Peter to exclaim: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
We must remember as we move through the world carrying this message of hope that those who oppose us – criticize us, persecute us, ridicule us – are not as much mean-spirited as they are lost. Lost, just as you and I were once lost. They are without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life. But they are lost people that God wants to find.
Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Exactly. And those who would hurt us in some way don’t really understand what they’re doing either. The Bible calls them blinded.
They’re without hope, they just don’t know it yet.
God wants to serve them with our hands, to go to them with our feet, comfort them with His words in our mouths.
He wants us to repay hostility with compassion and abuse with love – a love that “does not take into account a wrong suffered” – praying as we go that it might please the Lord to visit salvation upon them.
And so we bring this message of hope to the unwitting hopeless, bearing in our hearts God’s promise that “those who turn many to righteousness [will shine] like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
To consider …
- Paul reminds believers that the battles we fight are first and foremost spiritual battles.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
- How does viewing the conflicts we have with others as spiritual rather than fleshly change the way we look at them?
- How does it change your approach to resolving them?
- In this context, consider Romans 12:20: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
- What does this mean to you?
- What are the “burning coals” Paul speaks of?
- Why would it be a ‘good’ thing to heap them upon someone’s head?
- Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” How does the devil use offense to keep God’s people from delivering the message of hope to those who need it? Has he ever used this to neutralize your Christian work?
- Has God opened a door of opportunity with someone who needs to hear the message of hope that you’ve failed to walk through? Why?
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We all have allotted our share of trials each assigned by God’s divine providence for a distinct purpose. I must confess I just cannot Fathom life without hope in Jesus! I can’t even imagine it and yet so many are living as such.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
I’m singing and rejoicing right alongside you Charlie!
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand!
Our homeless shelter is a gathering place of men who have all but abandoned hope in their life. For some their careless or selfish decisions have built a barrier between them and those who have tried to point them toward hope that their circumstances could be different. Many have settled for what scraps the world will toss them so long as they continue their alliegence to anything but Jesus and the hope found in Him.
That is what makes our ministry to them so pure and so powerful. Meeting these men right where they are, often standing on the thin line between hope and despair, sharing words of life that can never fail if they are received by a willing heart is a profoundly meaningful thing.
Being a hope-bearer is both a privilege and a necessity for every disciple.
This is very encouraging and helps give me perspective. Thanks P. Steve!
Wow, Pastor Steve. I LOVE that image of being a hope-bearer! Thank you, brother.
Pastor Steve that is just so true – I’ve seen it in my own life where if a person has no hope in their situation and only sees the darkness how bright is it when we light that one candle of hope – JESUS
I love this Pastor Bacon. Bringing hope to those in total despair. Your homeless sanctuary is truly a light for many in dark places.
I am reflecting on those “hope bearers” who played a part in my salvation over the years and I am so thankful that my Savior placed them in my life. It causes me to consider the times that I have not walked through that door (and there are many) to share the hope in Jesus with others. He has renewed my desire to do so this morning. Please pray with me that as opportunity presents itself in numerous ways today and In the days to come, that I WILL be a hope bearer to others!
Hope boy I remember when I was lost. Now I couldn’t even imagine being with out Jesus Christ in my life .i see so many people walking around lost without hope even the people I work with I try to tell them but they just can’t see it yet . But God is always working so I just keep plugging that maybe they will find hope like I did.if the scales can fall from my eyes they can fall from anyone’s Amen.
Marc just keep pointing them to truth and be a light in that dark place – you are such a blessing thanking God for such a faithful man of God.
Dave and Friends,
God is letting me see this too now on both a psych ward for elderly and in the halls of units in which we serve those addicted to opiods, alcohol and other harsh substance abuse. What really makes me stop and go “wow!” Is when I see a psychotic patient or one with Alzheimer’s, dementia or major depressive disorder, and especially cognitive disfunctioning sit in a circle and sing their hearts out like little children to the Chaplain’s Christian Christmas songs this week, yet those often kind and loving nurses to them often seemingly jesting when one or two hear that same person so tarnished by past sin rejoicing yet in their hope of the Savior! With all they do, they just don’t always “get it yet”!!
I recentl saw someone in the throes of losing it all for his heroine addiction-and after drug testing we knew he unknowingly was getting fetantyl. His apparent new found love of Christ from some woman’s witness from a church his family lives in gave him the final ounce of courage to come check himself in and start his healing-hallelujah!! I am in the process of daily answering questions to my nurse trainer about why I love to go to Haiti and how harsh it is but how full of joy it’s people can be with the Love they truly know. A nurse who just came in to switch with me last week heard us talking if HAITI her beloved country and we soonwere embracing and laughing together about the Truth Who lights their way, too. May God continue to be lifted up on the psych ward and in tthe hearts of those whose release from such bondage’s are His desire, I am so grateful He has placed me firmly at these two places in His time and for His purposes. It’s pretty cool when I come across a patient to whom Abba’s Love has been revealed! Especially seeing where they have been stuck. may He give us believers the true and earnest desire every day to “shine on” and illuminate His ways. (: