(Writer’s Note: This post was written for my earlier blog, Faith Lessons, and shared one year ago in January 2020. As I looked over these words, I was struck that my sentiments then mirrored what they are now going into 2021. While this past year has been unusually hard, I realized that life is always a grand mixture of hard and happy, sad and joyful, full of anxieties and ripe with possibility. These words of Scripture, written over 2500 years ago, ring true today as good words for the beginning of each year. Choose hope.)
“’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.’” (Jer. 29: 11)
How are we to hear these verses amid the reality of a world filled with uncertainty, in which the story does not always end well? How are we to hear these verses headed into a new decade that we know will be filled with both blessings and trials?
Many times, during the years we battled Perrin’s cancer, I wondered how to understand these stirring promises. I read these verses and struggled to understand what they meant for me and my family in the midst of heartache each day. Were these promises for us or only for the people of biblical times? Now, when I read closer, I see these verses differently.
God gave these words through the prophet Jeremiah to the Hebrew people at the beginning of a seventy-year exile in Babylon. The earlier verses in the chapter encourage the Jewish people to settle down in their exile and find the best life possible in less than ideal circumstances. They painted a grander canvas that assured them that God was for them and that He sees and shapes the future for their good. He gives us this same assurance. The promise is for us when life is hard. The assurance is that we are not forgotten, even in dark days, and that God’s plans are worthy of our hope.
As we head into a new year and a new decade, we all walk in with mixed feelings. Some may feel primarily optimistic with life seemingly going their way, while others are caught trying to merely survive the trials of each week. In either case, the promise of God delivered through Jeremiah reaches to our individual circumstances. In fact, it reaches beyond our circumstances. It speaks that the nature of God is hope and goodness amid seasons of plenty or the wilderness of suffering. It will always be hope and goodness. In the midst of exile, grief, suffering, and uncertainty, His nature is hope and goodness.
Though hard to hold onto in the midst of difficult times, faith believes in His hope and goodness. He will never leave us or abandon us.
If you are struggling going into this new year then lean into this promise. Memorize it and internalize it. Let its truth speak louder than the voices of doubt and fear. This is the power of the Word of God. What better time to embrace this truth than January 1, 2020.