Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

I Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”

Matthew 28:5-6 “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye:  for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here:  for he is risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the resurrection of Christ on the day we call Easter.  It is the most hopeful day on the calendar, reminding all of the ultimate and eternal hope provided by Jesus even in the midst of a context seemingly filled with the deepest of despair.  He is risen, as he said!  Our blessed hope and lively hope boosts our spirits and secures our destiny.

Unfortunately, this message stands in sharp contrast to a world that is filled with despair and hopelessness as it rejects the good news of the gospel in the name of individual intellect and societal improvement.  As our self-sufficiency drives apparent progress and the crowning of individualism as our highest value, it also propels us towards a meaningless existence. This tragic turn is revealed in a stunning way in an article I came across recently entitled “Why Suicide Has Become an Epidemic – and What We Can Do to Help.” (https://www.newsweek.com/2013/05/22/why-suicide-has-become-epidemic-and-what-we-can-do-help-237434.html)

This epidemic is most acute in developed societies, prompting the author to beg the question: “What’s gone so rotten in the modern world?”  Stunning quotes from the article include:

  • In a time defined by ever more social progress and astounding innovations, we have never been more burdened by sadness or more consumed by self-harm.
  • More and more of us are living through a time of seamless black: a period of mounting clinical depression, blossoming thoughts of oblivion and an abiding wish to get there by the nonscenic route.
  • In the land that commercialized positive thinking and put pill bottles in every drawer, depression has emerged as the most debilitating condition we face.
  • But suicide is not an economic problem or a generational tic. It’s not a secondary concern, a sideline that will solve itself with new jobs, less access to guns, or a more tolerant society, although all would be welcome. It’s a problem with a broad base and terrible momentum, a result of seismic changes in the way we live and a corresponding shift in the way we die—not only in America but around the world.
  • Sociologists in general believe that when society robs people of self-control, individual dignity, or a connection to something larger than themselves, suicide rates rise.
  • Where conditions improve, life expectancy does too, and somewhere in this transition there is a tipping point, a Rubicon beyond which death is no longer a bone-fingered stranger but the man in the mirror.

The conclusion: “we’ve become our own greatest danger” and “humankind’s biggest health problem is humankind.”  Progress may be a misnomer in the modern and developed world.

The antidote may be to roll back the clock in some facets of a society that is recklessly and determinedly rushing forward at an unchecked pace.  It appears that we should be uplifting community, connectedness, and reliance on others.  We should be trumpeting purpose, dignity, and morality.  We should be reminded that we were created by a loving God and not fashioned by a random cosmic accident.  We should be turning back to the cross, where hope reaches far beyond the temporal.  We should be seeking a living hope through a Savior who has risen.