Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV)
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
One of the hardest things to forgive is losing a dream or a future we’ve been counting on because of someone’s harmful action. Perhaps a child is molested, and an unspoiled future is lost. A parent suffers estrangement from an adult son or daughter whose choices have caused friction and harm in the family. Criminal activity cheats a couple out of their retirement money, or a home invasion traumatizes its victim into never feeling safe again. Deception and betrayal damage a relationship beyond repair.
The Jeremiah passage quoted above was meant to encourage displaced Israelites who had lost their homeland, yet its message can encourage us as well. God reassures all his people that he is present and sovereign even in the most woeful times. When we lose a cherished dream or suffer loss that redefines our future, God says that the future still belongs to him. This means that, although a painful circumstance derailed our plans, it did not derail God’s plans for us. Even from the worst damage and suffering, God can repair and restore us to be the people he intended for us to be all along. No evil force can outmaneuver God. No devastation is so final that God cannot raise beauty and wholeness from its ashes.
When a crushing loss hits us, and we have no hope of going back or recovering what was lost, we must look toward a future that is reshaped and redefined. Trusting God in such a difficult circumstance tests our faith in God’s nature and power. Do we believe God is good and loving and just? Do we believe God was never absent but always present with us in our suffering? Can we trust God to lead us in our blindness and confusion to a higher place, where character is built up and the heart learns lessons of humility and gratitude, love and mercy?
Instead of allowing a hurtful circumstance to reshape us, we can choose to open ourselves to God’s reshaping. We can trust that God will help us toward an uprightness and beauty of soul that was always in his plans for us.
FATHER, I ask for more faith to trust you with my life and my future. Help me to see past my losses and hurts and believe that your love is deeper and stronger than anything our sinful world can conceive. When I feel crushed, heal and restore me to wholeness. When I lose hope, help me to rise and walk with you toward the future you have already secured for me.
Genesis 45:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
Was something taken from you that left you angry and resentful? How could God use that very loss to your spiritual advantage?