A Certain Hope in Uncertain Days: 30 Days of Hope-filled Focus
Day 2: Hope Lost and Found
The prophet Jeremiah is commonly referred to as the “weeping prophet.” In Jeremiah 9:1 we read of his plea that his eyes would be “a fountain of tears” that he might “weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” In his God-given ministry he called the people to repentance, warning them repeatedly of pending judgment. He was faithful to his task, though he ongoingly suffered harsh criticism and physical threats and harm. His unheeded warnings ultimately came to pass, and he witnessed that which he had foretold in the destruction of Jerusalem.
God sent the Babylonians. They brought utter destruction to the city. They burned the temple and the King’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem. They broke down the city walls. They raped, pillaged, and killed Jeremiah’s people. Those not killed were taken off into captivity. Jeremiah saw it all. Women and children dead in the streets; the law, the temple, the priesthood—all torn away. And he wept. And he was discouraged. He said, “My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord…my soul…is bowed down within me” (Lamentations 3:18-20). Jeremiah loved the city and the people. Its hard to imagine how hard it must have been for him to witness such utter destruction. His own eyes told him that he should abandon all hope. He was defeated, discouraged, and depressed in the lostness of it all.
Did you know that Jeremiah owned a piece of property in that wasteland? Before the destruction of Jerusalem, God had instructed Jeremiah to purchase it. He bought it at the very time that “the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 32:2). Not only was the city under siege, God had reaffirmed to Jeremiah His plan to give the city into the hand of the King of Babylon (Jeremiah 32:4). Jeremiah’s cousin came to Jeremiah with the proposal to buy the field. Jeremiah knew the matter to be “the word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 32:8). So, Jeremiah purchased the field. And the matter begs the question, “why purchase a piece of property in a land that is soon to be overthrown?” God Himself provided the answer. He instructed Jeremiah to secure the deeds in an earthenware vessel, that would last for a very long time. He then explained the reason why, “Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land” (Jeremiah 32:15). Jeremiah responded to God’s promise by praying, “Ah, Lord God! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. You show steadfast love to thousands…” (Jeremiah 32:17-18). In responding to Jeremiah’s prayer God spoke of a future day when God would gather up His scattered people and make them to dwell in safety. He said, “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Jeremiah 32:38).
Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and wept and saw no reason for hope. But then we read of a most dramatic shift in his outlook, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’ (Lamentations 3:21-24). Through eyes of faith, Jeremiah shifted his vision to God Himself. He called to mind certain truths regarding God’s nature and promises. His grievous circumstances were not changed, but his mind and heart were encouraged in the truth of who God is. Perhaps he reminded himself of the field he had bought which spoke of a future day when God’s purpose for His people would be fulfilled. Somewhere in that wasteland lay a title deed which spoke to God’s promise.
Likewise, God has graced the believer with a future inheritance. Having believed the gospel, he’s been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). This promised inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:4). No circumstance can work to take it away, for it is being “kept in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4). Not only is the inheritance being kept safe, we “by God’s power are being guarded” until we possess it (1 Peter 1:5). To those suffering believers, Peter then wrote, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
Jeremiah was hopelessly discouraged in all he saw, but then he looked—through eyes of faith—to His faithful and compassionate God and in Him he found hope. No matter how difficult our circumstances, we can always find good reason for hope in reminding ourselves of the greatness of our God and the certainty of His promises.