“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV)
Jeremiah 29:11 is an often-quoted Bible verse that reassures us God has a plan for our lives. His thoughts toward us are good thoughts. Even though we may not know exactly what the future holds, we can feel secure in the knowledge that it’s all in His control. We have hope.
I was once privileged to witness sixty-six people fulfill one of their greatest dreams—receiving citizenship in my country. From reading the program, I knew some had emigrated from areas torn by war. Others came from countries that do not provide their citizens the freedoms and opportunities I take for granted. It was a diverse group in age, education, economic status, and national origin; but all held one thing in common. Each person receiving citizenship was filled with hope for fresh opportunities in this new land. Their smiles and tears said it all.
As I observed those assembled there that day, I tried to imagine what difficulties some might have overcome to reach this goal. I watched one man emotionally kiss the certificate he was presented. What fears had he faced? What sacrifices had he made to possess that piece of paper and all it symbolized? How long did he wait before his hope was fulfilled?
Hope is defined as “a wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment” (Webster’s II New College Dictionary). The phrase “confident expectation” is more than just an indecisive perhaps . . . maybe . . . if I’m lucky . . . someday this thing I desire might come to pass. Hope looks forward with anticipation. Hope is enthusiastic, confident, assured, and trusting.
It has been said, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.” This statement is just as true when reversed—where there’s hope, there’s life.
The Bible gives many examples of those who hoped with confident expectation and complete assurance in the Lord. The life of Abraham demonstrates this trust. Without hesitation, Abraham responded to God’s instructions to leave all he had known and set out for a land God would show him. There was no MapQuest or Google Maps to provide a clearly marked route. But there was a confident expectation that God’s promises were true and would not fail. “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations” (Romans 4:18). Abraham’s faith was not in vain.
Many today have lost hope. Their dreams lay in ashes. Despair and defeat overwhelm them. Even the child of God may go through dark times of doubt and despair. But there is a way out. Paul describes it this way:
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (II Corinthians 4:8-9)
He continues in verse 16 by saying “the inward man is renewed day by day.” Every day that we live we can experience that confident expectation. The Spirit of God living in us renews our hope. With the Lord, we have a future and a hope.
I have hope, when troubles come my way.
I have hope, since Jesus has come to stay.
I have hope, oh yeah, when things are not well with me.
I have hope, it’s a beautiful hope that sets me free.
(Chorus of “I Have Hope” by Jessie Jimerson)
Thank You, Lord, for the confident expectation I feel as Your child. Your promises have never failed me, and I know that Your plans for my life are good plans. Regardless of the trials that come my way, living for You fills me with hope, both now and for eternity.