Jeremiah shows us how to thrive in troublesome times.
The weather forecast called for a sunny, dry day, so my husband and I and our son decided to go on a picnic. Later, while we walked a favorite trail along the creek, a storm arose. My family dashed for the car, thankful for its protection.
We drove out of the valley and onto the main highway, homeward bound. As we got closer, the sky revealed a spectacular rainbow in front of us. “The sign of the covenant God made, a promise to never again destroy with a flood,” my son said from the backseat.
The weather forecaster had gotten it wrong. Our heavenly Father’s predictions, however, are never in error. The summer storm, with its destructive potential of lightning, thunder, strong winds, and heavy downpour, is comparable to the darkening times we live in. As I looked into the clearing sky and gazed upon that rainbow of promise, the word hope sprang to mind — the certainty that what God has promised is true, has occurred, and will happen in accordance with His Word. In 2 Corinthians 1:20, the apostle Paul says, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen. . . .”
Hope is never a static or passive thing. Look up the word, and you will find reference after reference pointing out its active results in the lives of those who truly have a biblical hope and live accordingly. Such a hope doesn’t leave us idle, drifting, or throwing up our hands.
A biblical hope is not an escape from reality or from our problems. At times a stressful situation is not of our making and is out of our control. Perhaps your family, your business, your own hopes and dreams are crumbling around you. These days we must place our hope in God alone. Belief in a sovereign, loving God gives us the insight to know what is true, and we do not lose hope amid life’s setbacks and disappointments. Our hope will be based on God’s promises. It will be dynamic and life sustaining.
Today, as in the days of Noah, wickedness is rampant; warnings are refused. Waywardness will be recompensed. But if we dwell on the news that is so readily available, we can become disheartened by the extent of evil. The fabric of society appears to be ripping apart, a time foretold in God’s Word (2 Timothy 3; Luke 21:25, 26).
As the world self-destructs, its violence born from godless roots, we can turn to Psalm 91:5 for assurance: “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day. . . .” Only when we call to mind the Word of the Lord do we find peace and hope for the future. The prophet Jeremiah knew this source of hope: “O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble . . .” (14:8).
Jeremiah had a difficult message to deliver. He loved Judah, but he loved God much more. The book of Jeremiah records the final prophecies to Judah, warning of oncoming destruction if the nation did not repent. The prophet called out for the people to turn back to God, “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear . . .” (7:24). He recognized the inevitability of Judah’s destruction due to their unrepentant idolatry and immorality.
As painful as it was for Jeremiah to deliver a message of judgment to his own people, he obeyed what God told him to do and say. We too are to obey even when it is difficult to trust in God’s perfect plan. Jeremiah reminds us, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord . . .” (17:7).
The consequences of sin and disobedience were severe for Israel. God allowed the Babylonians to besiege, plunder, and destroy the city of Jerusalem. Solomon’s temple, which had stood approximately four hundred years, was burned to the ground. God reveals through this story that a lifestyle apart from His commands leaves us destitute and lost.
Jeremiah, an eyewitness to these events, is credited with writing Lamentations. This book consists of five heart-wrenching cries of anguish because the Chaldeans had broken down the terraces and completely destroyed the walls of Jerusalem.
The third lament stands alone as a song of praise amid the misery and crumbling ruins. There in the middle of the book is Jeremiah’s song of hope: Jerusalem would be rebuilt because God’s mercy and compassion never fail; they are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22, 24).
Today the consequences of sin and disobedience surround us. The systems of this world are not based on Christ’s righteousness. We live in a time when most institutions, including the family, are falling apart. We too weep for the destruction and loss of life we see.
But the Lord is not slack concerning His promises. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Jeremiah 23:5, 6. The prophet describes Him as a Branch from the house of David, the King who would reign in wisdom and righteousness. Just as Jeremiah did, we must place our hope in God. His great faithfulness will carry us through this great time of trouble upon the earth.
When our Lord’s disciples inquired as to what would be the sign of His coming, Jesus described all the things that must come to pass before the end of the age (Matthew 24). Our Lord instructed us to watch and pray so that day does not take us unawares.
While we await the further revealing of God’s purposes, we can say with a strong and confident expectation, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). And while we wait for the storm to clear, we can live as we should — expecting, praising, obeying, and hoping.