He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. 

 

Paul couldn’t have known:   a few years after the believers in Colossae received this letter, their city would be decimated by a powerful earthquake.   Historians tell us that the city never fully recovered.

It’s possible that some of the Colossian believers grieved the loss of a spouse or a child in the quake.   Others, seeing their livelihoods buried in the rubble, uprooted their families and sought refuge elsewhere.

Disasters have a way of confronting us head-on with the problem of suffering, don’t they?   Whether it’s recent stories of major flooding or something more localized, like a family member’s death, suffering can shake a person’s faith, undermine their resolve, and leave behind emotional wounds that don’t easily heal.   In short, suffering threatens to drain us of hope.

That’s why this passage is so relevant for those who are in the midst of suffering.   Not because it’s a treatise on grief or pain—it doesn’t mention them—but because it reveals Jesus as the source of our hope in every situation.

Try to use your imagination as you think about the hope Paul talks about.   Think about how the Colossians might have clung to Paul’s words here in the aftermath of the quake.   And of course, consider how Jesus is the basis for your hope too.

Because Jesus is the head of the Church, we have hope (Colossians 1:18).   Jesus would never abandon his people at the first sight of danger.   He demonstrated his commitment to us by enduring the cross, preferring to shed his blood than leave us at the mercy of sin.   Even in the thick of our suffering, our good Shepherd stands with us, ready to give us peace.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, we have hope (Colossians 1:18).   Death wasn’t the end for Jesus; he overcame it.   Death isn’t the end for us either.   We are looking forward to eternal life with the Lord.   Our loved ones who have died in Christ are already with him, eagerly waiting to see us again.

Because Jesus is reconciling all things, we have hope (Colossians 1:20).   Right now, Jesus is reconciling everything, even our pain and grief, with his plan for us.   From the “rubble” of our suffering, he’s producing the fruit of maturity in our lives.

“Jesus, you are the firstborn of all creation!   I place all my hope in you.”

Psalm 100:1-5
Luke 5:33-39

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