For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 RSV).
The sure sign that we have an authentic relationship with God is that we believe more in the future than in the past. The past can be neither a source of confidence nor a condemnation. God graciously divided our life into days and years so that we could let go of our yesterdays and anticipate our tomorrows. For the past mistakes, He offers forgiveness and an ability to forget. For our tomorrows, He gives us the gift of expectation and excitement.
What the Lord said to the people of Israel languishing in the Babylonian exile is for any of us who are exiled from Him and hope for the future. He has plans for each of us—good plans for our growth in His grace—so that we can have a future with hope. Emil Brunner said, “What oxygen is for the lungs, hope is for the soul.” Hope enables a vital quality of life; it sets us free to dare, gives us confidence for daily frustrations, and stirs up the courage to live adventuresomely. The gift of hope for the future is the key entrusted to us which opens the floodgates of the Lord’s power and unlocks the flow of His amazing, unlimited possibilities.
So often people say, “You’ve got to have hope!” as if it were something we could muster out of ourselves. Hope is advertent. It comes from something or someone else. Authentic hope comes from Christ, who He is, and what He is able to do. His resurrection is the ultimate source of hope. Nothing can defeat Him! The worst that man did on Calvary was followed by the best hope for all time. He is with us now today to give us courage for the future. He is in charge of this new year. He has a plan! Surrender the year ahead, thanking the Lord that everything that will happen to us is for what He has planned to help us become like Him.