I received the following rather disturbing notice via email once:
Due to recent budget cuts, and the rising cost of electricity, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off. We apologize for any inconvenience. Inconvenience? That would be a disaster! Of course, it’s only a joke, but imagine if it were true. What if there was no light at the end? No hope? The apostle Paul urged Christians in Rome to “Be joyful in hope” (Romans 12:12). Is there any other way to be joyful? Is it possible to be happy without hope? If there is no light at the end, is there any real purpose in traveling through the tunnel? If only darkness waits, why bother? We live a few years, accomplish nothing that will last or have any real significance, and then we die. That’s it? How miserable! Of course, we don’t want to pretend there is a light at the end if there isn’t. Self-delusion serves little purpose. As Paul wrote, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19). It would be a sad state if Christians practiced delayed gratification only to find that there is no gratification later. We might as well party while we can. “If the dead are not raised,” Paul concluded, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (v. 32). But Paul and countless other Christians through the centuries have staked their lives that the light is there - that life and heaven are shining at the end of the tunnel. For Paul and thousands of others, faith was no fantasy invented by a church council 270 years later. It wasn’t an existential angst or a personal, subjective reality. No, Paul vehemently insisted that he had personally and empirically met a risen Jesus. It was that encounter and his subsequent experience of God working in his life that convinced Paul that life after death was real. “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,” he insisted (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because of that, we can have hope that “in Christ all will be made alive” (v. 22). If life were a dark, dead-end tunnel, it would be a frightening, dreadful experience. The good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. His name is Jesus.