My hope is in the Name of the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.
Perhaps that sounds terribly conventional, and boring but, looking closer, it is a hope intimately bound up with terror. You see, my hope isn't that I will go to a heaven full of gold-paved roads, harps, and free wings for everyone. My hope isn't even that I'll be raised from the dead, although resurrection may be required. My hope is that I will see God face to face, and yet, as it is written, before Him is a consuming fire, a fire that could as easily consume me as cleanse me of my sins. As it is written, it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. This is the terrible paradox I see at the heart of Christianity. We are promised salvation and that all will be well, and yet God's greatest deed is Christ's death on the cross and we are instructed to take up our own crosses daily and follow him into death. As it is written, it is in dying that we come to eternal life. But in dying we lose any assurance other than God's goodness that we will get anything back, much less that we will get back anything like what we gave up. Death is the land in which all is forgotten, a shadowy place whose inhabitants can do nothing for themselves. As long as we retain an element of control, we haven't yet fully died, and we can't have come before God. As it is written, no one can see God's face and live.
So where is hope in all this reflection on death? While God isn't tame, much less domesticated, God is good. His mercy endures forever, and his promises are always fulfilled, although only rarely in the way and at the rate we desired. Apart from God there is no life at all, and with Him, even if we die, we will live in a world in which there are no more tears, neither sorrow nor dying.