I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Jeremiah 29:10-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The prophet Jeremiah’s words are for the people to give them hope in a dark time. He wants to assure the people that God will give them “a future with hope.”
A future with hope—what a phrase! Even though Jeremiah was addressing his people in their particular situation, throughout the pages of scripture we see that God wants for every person in every age a future with hope. If you want to know what God has in mind, then that is it in a nutshell.
Hope sustains us in the most difficult times. Paul, in Thessalonians 4:13, writes, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” As people of faith we most certainly grieve when someone we love dies, but there is a certain quality to that grief. We grieve with hope.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, Paul writes that there are three things that last, that endure: faith, hope, and love.
In his book Leading Causes of Life, Larry Pray maintains that hope really needs an adjective to get at its true meaning. That adjective is informed. Here is what he writes:
Informed hope is a leading cause of life. Wishful thinking will not suffice. Optimism devoid of reality can bring us both to denial and despair. But informed hope is grounded in life itself. It is not an event. It is a process. It is not afraid of discouraging facts. It knows that magical thinking is often an escape from life whereas informed hope is of life. Informed hope has a way of saying, “Yes, these untoward events have happened, and there is no way to turn back time. But you still have life to live. Live it!”
Humans Alone Have the Capacity to Live in the Future. With the exception of humans, animals live in the past and the present alone. They do anticipate an event in the future, but it is based on their experience of the past alone. Our dogs know that a walk is in the future and they are energized with excitement when we pick up the leashes. Why? Not because they have imagined how the leash might be used or what a walk in the neighborhood might be like, but because they have experienced it before and they make the connection with the past to know what is likely coming.
But, the future is as real for humans as the past is for other kinds of animals. The ability to almost “remember” the future as well as the past enables us to see beyond the present. The future draws us as if we remember it already happening. This is called “the memory of the future,” a phrase coined by David Ingvar in 1985. Hope exists in connection with others and in action that blesses others and ourselves. We carry with us a memory of the future—an image of the future as vivid as the past—that draws out life from us and leads us to the kinds of connections and action and blessing that further enhances life and builds up our hope for the time to come. By hope we live in the future.
Several years ago, my friend and member of this church, Paul Driskell, led the congregation in prayer. He had an image he used in that prayer that I jotted down and have remembered through these years: “the sands of hope cannot be eroded by waves of despair.”
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “My Hope is Built” by Edward Mote (1834). I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster