One of the verses I frequently see quoted by our confirmation students is also one of my favorites. It’s found in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The context, of course, is the Lord speaking an encouraging word through the prophet Jeremiah to a nation in exile in Babylon. But it’s a word that crosses all timelines and cultures, isn’t it? It’s a word that gives all of us “hope.”
As Pastor Sean told us on Sunday, there are hope “robbers” and hope “nurturers.” The question for each of us is how do we nurture hope, especially if something or someone has disappointed us? The list we heard of hope nurturers includes: Develop peace, Strengthen faith, Apply wisdom, and Seek Jesus. We could spend weeks unpacking the “how to” of each of those, couldn’t we? (And that’s not a bad idea!!)
But before Jeremiah tells the Israelites in exile of God’s good plan for them, he has a warning: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you…They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them, declares the Lord (Jer. 29:8-9). It’s a word that speaks to the volatility and complicated nature of being in exile in a foreign land, isn’t it? Especially if those “joy robbers” have gained a foothold, as they so often do.
Scripture is full of really encouraging verses about ‘hope,’ and we would do well to meditate on them, and memorize them! But when all is said and done our only true hope is the one Jesus provided at the cross. It is in his obedience that we find our new relationship with God – one of hope and a future. Our daily journey may, and probably will at some point, be treacherous and full of trouble, but never doubt, God wins! And that means WE win. I hope, my friends, you know the Truth of that statement deep, deep, deep down in your soul!