A Future and a Hope
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Because, for centuries, the Jews had consistently disobeyed the Lord, worshiping idols and rejecting justice, he finally sent the Babylonians to sack Jerusalem and take the finest of her people back to Babylon. How discouraging it must have been for the exiles to live against their will in a foreign land. How they must have longed for home, yet without any hope of ever seeing it again.
Yet, through Jeremiah, the Lord spoke not only words of judgment, but also words of grace. Yes, the exiles would be in Babylon for seventy years. But then the Lord would “come and do for [them] all the good things” he had promised. In fact, he would bring them home to the land of promise (29:10). “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Though most of us are not literal exiles, we often feel as if we’re not at home in this world. When we suffer physical ailments, when our families are wrenched apart by divorce, when our financial well-being falters, when we see such pain and injustice in our world, our hearts ache for something better, for life as God intended it to be. Yet God has given us a future and a hope. The time will come when God will mend what is wrong with this world, restoring it to what he created it to be. In this new creation, we will be fully and finally at home.
We live with confident hope in God’s future. But, even now, we begin to experience that future. We who are in Christ have started to live in his “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). Thus, when we experience God’s peace in the midst of turmoil, when we forgive those who have wronged us or receive the forgiveness of others, when our bodies and our relationships are healed, when we feed the hungry or seek justice for the oppressed, we enjoy a foretaste of the future. In this unfolding hope, we find strength to live each day for God, sharing a bit of his new creation with others.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When do you feel like an exile in this world? What helps you to have confident hope in God and his future? How do you experience the new creation?
PRAYER: O Lord, even as you once had plans for your people in Babylon, giving them a future and a hope, so you have plans for us. You see our lives and where they are heading. You know the incomprehensible goodness that you have prepared for us. And you even see how our lives are moving ever closer to that reality.
Yet, dear Lord, often we feel like exiles. We are not fully at home in this world as it is, and we yearn for the world of the future. We long for the day when sickness, war, injustice, hatred, and death will be abolished. We ache to be fully the people you have created and redeemed us to be.
Help us to hold on fast to the future that you have for us. May we live in this world, each day, with a confident hope that sustains and guides us.
All praise be to you, O Lord, because you have great plans for us. You have given us a future and a hope! Amen.