By DAVE MARTIN

New Life Center Church

Hope is the ability to stand in the present and look into the future with confidence. People not only want to know what the future holds for their life, but also what will happen to them after they die.

I read a funny story about a man from Chicago who was traveling to Florida for a vacation. His wife was delayed and was going to join him the next day. When he arrived at his hotel, he wanted to send her an email from the lobby computer, but he couldn't recall her email address from memory. He typed in what he thought was her email address, but unfortunately he got one letter wrong. Instead of the email going to his wife, it went to an elderly preacher's wife, whose husband had died a few days earlier. When the preacher's wife checked her email, she found the message from the guy in Florida. When she read it, she screamed and then fainted.

It said: Dear wife, just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Your loving husband. P.S. It sure is hot down here.

If you really could get a message from someone who already has died, you'd probably pay close attention to it. Actually, we do have a message from the only man who died and then came back from the dead, never to die again.

His name is Jesus, and on the very first Easter, there were two people walking back from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus.

If you had been following them, you'd have noticed their heads were hanging low and their feet were dragging. They had been followers of Jesus, and three days earlier, they had seen their hopes nailed to a cross. Their hearts were broken.

As they were walking, a stranger joined them. They didn't recognize him, but the stranger was Jesus, fresh from his resurrection. They had watched him die, and nobody expects to see dead men walking. The stranger asked them what they were discussing.

Jesus talked with them and when they reached their home, they invited their guest to join them for supper. When Jesus took the bread and said the blessing they suddenly recognized him -- and "poof," Jesus vanished.

Because of their Easter encounter with Jesus, these two people were never the same again. There are three important things to remember from this real life story:

1. Life is full of heart-breaking experiences.

The two disciples were full of despair. It says in verse 17, "They stood still, their faces downcast."

Maybe you're suffering from a broken heart as well. From the cradle to the grave, pain and despair come to us like waves of the ocean. If you're between a wave right now, be thankful. But chances are another wave is on the way -- that's life. Nobody is immune from the pain of a broken heart.

The Bible says nobody is immune from trouble. The psalmist observed, "The length of our days is 70 years -- or 80, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away" (Psalm 90:10).

2. A broken heart can destroy your hope if you allow it.

They knew what it was to have broken hearts and broken hopes. Have you ever come to a place in your life when things didn't turn out the way you wanted them to and you had to say, "I had hoped?"

Losing hope can make you sick. The Bible says in Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life." Have you lost hope?

Hopelessness is when you're afraid "things never will change." Sometimes you feel that way, but "hope is the feeling that the feeling you have won't last forever."

Everyone is in search of hope. And that leads me to the last point.

3. Jesus can restore your hope.

Jesus claimed he has power to heal a broken heart. He said in Luke 4:18, "He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted."

Has there been such pain and disappointment that you've wondered "what's the use?"

Jesus is willing and able to heal your broken heart, but you've got to be willing to give him all the pieces.

If you need hope, you can do three things these two disciples in Luke 24 did.

There is hope if you will walk with him. In the Bible, the word "walk with" speaks of a close relationship. The Bible says, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you say, 'This is the way, walk in it' " (Isaiah 30:21).

There is hope if you will listen to him.

They listened to what he had to say. Their hope was gone until they heard what he had to say.

There is hope if you will see him for who he really is.

When they recognized Jesus for who he really was, their hopes were restored fully. They thought he was dead -- and suddenly, they realized he was alive.

Do you recognize Jesus? How would you answer this question: Who is Jesus?

There are many religions on this planet. You can visit the tombs where the remains of all the religious leaders are buried. But the single feature that makes Jesus unique is he is alive today. If you don't see him as living today, you don't have any basis for hope.

Easter is the most hopeful day of the year, because the Bible says it is the resurrection of Jesus that is the basis for our hope. "In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

The crucifixion of Jesus was not a rare event. Thousands of criminals were crucified on a Roman cross. It is the resurrection of Jesus that stands alone in history as unique. Through it, we have hope.

The message of Easter is a message of hope to the broken-hearted. The God who holds the future is the God who can heal your broken heart.

Statements of Faith is a series sharing lessons from local church leaders and members. To submit a column for publication, contact the Hays Daily News at (785) 628-1081.