“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate contest of history, therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.”Reinhold Niebuhr
We are living in a season of disruption.
It seems that the global Covid-19 pandemic is finally beginning to lose its momentum, but now we are facing economic woes that are shaking the global economy. In North America, inflation is higher than it has been in 40 years, and we are all feeling the pinch of increased costs.
However, in many parts of the developing world inflation has risen astronomically—80% or more within the past year, causing severe economic pain for millions of people.
As followers of Jesus, how do we make sense of this season of disruption?
There is a “go to” scripture that people often turn to in times like these:
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.Jeremiah 29:11
This verse is often used as a “spiritual security blanket” in difficult times. We find this verse stamped on T-shirts, imprinted on greeting cards and posters, and etched in coffee mugs.
While it is true that God is a God of hope, we need to understand the context of this verse. This verse was written to people in captivity. This verse was written to people who had been uprooted from their homes and taken to a foreign land. This was written to people who were in a season of disruption.
What this verse tells us that God plays the long game. God was working out a plan that was generations in the making.
Yes, there was hope and a future, but it was not the kind of short-term hope that the captives in Babylon may have wished for. The Lord’s direction to the people in captivity is found earlier in the chapter:
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”Jeremiah 29:4-7
I would suggest to you that in spite of the disruption we are currently experiencing in our time, we can still have hope because we know that God is working his grand eternal plan, that will culminate in the blessed hope—the return of the Lord Jesus Christ!
In the meantime life goes on, we should live hope-filled lives by building houses, planting gardens, enjoying the harvest, planning weddings, raising children, and loving grandchildren. Be salt and light in our communities and expect that God will cause us to flourish in the midst of this season of disruption.