New Beginnings: Renewed faith renewed hope - 27 January 2022

By Louise Gevers

I heard the shouting before I saw Audie’s shining eyes and the excitement on her face as she waited impatiently for me to open the gate. “I brought you a present! I brought you a present!” She could hardly contain herself as she helped me unwrap it, and then her disappointment was plain to see: “But where’s the toy?” Of course there was no toy inside my gift, but she’d had very little experience of a gift without one, so her response was understandable.

We’ve all experienced disappointment at times, when the reality of the “present” is different to what we’d expected. Many of us have had to experience situations that we’ve not been able to walk away from in our work, our families, our health or the state of the country; things over which we’ve no control and have had to work through, sometimes with great anguish; like Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was God’s prophet whom God had set apart before He formed him in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5) which did not mean that he would live an easy life – quite the contrary. Unpopular, lonely, sad and stressed, with no-one he could trust, we can learn and understand why, at times, He vented his feelings and, to his credit, recorded his hopelessness. Jeremiah wasn’t alone in this. Others called to serve God also experienced suffering and despair, notably Job and the psalmists.

Although God had told Jeremiah not to be afraid and promised that He was with him and would rescue him, his assignment must have appeared quite daunting to him, yet, in it, we can spot a promise of hope: “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9-10)

Jeremiah lived at a turbulent time in history when nations were in turmoil and even Judah’s godly King Josiah, for whom he’d felt a great affinity, died at the hands of the Egyptian pharaoh, leaving him bereft. Jeremiah had to give warnings, messages and lessons – all unpopular – and announce the destruction of Jerusalem, opposing the popular message of peace proclaimed by the false prophets.

But he also brought a message of hope, in a verse cherished today:
“This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’” (Jeremiah 29:10-14)

Although Jeremiah suffered greatly, we can be encouraged that his suffering wasn’t in vain but enhanced his ministry, making it rich and full, and still relevant today. Most wonderfully, we see in it God’s mercy tempering His wrath, and hope for a new day to come, fulfilling His promise of redemption.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

Prayer: Father, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) Thank you that our hope is in You. Amen