Is there something that you’re hoping will happen today?
One of the most important messages of the Bible and of God himself is that we can have hope even when things are really, really hard. Do you know what hope is? Hope is when you know that something good is coming in the future. Sometimes we use the word hope to mean that we aren’t sure something will happen. Like when we say “I hope the Nationals win their baseball game.” Or when we say, “I hope I get a new video game for my birthday.” We might want these things but we’re not completely sure that they will happen.
But in the Bible hope is about knowing that God will one day rescue us, not just guessing that he will. In the Bible hope is always about being sure. Why? Because God always keeps his promises.
When the Jewish people were taken into exile it all seemed so hopeless. The big, bad, Babylonians came and conquered them, burned their city and the temple of God, and they took everyone back to Babylon as slaves. The people felt hopeless. Where was God? What about God’s promises? What will happen to us? And in the middle of all this suffering and sadness God spoke these words through Jeremiah the prophet:
Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God is giving his people hope in the middle of their hardest time. His plan was for them to go into exile. To go through some very difficult days. But God also had a plan for them beyond the hard times, and beyond the difficult days. A plan to bring them back home on day to the promised land. A plan to restore their temple. And through it all God would never stop loving them.
You see God has a plan for you too. And his plan might include some very hard things. In fact, when you are a Christian you are living in exile just like the Jewish people in the Old Testament. As a Christian you are living in a world that is not your true home, because your real home is with God and with Jesus in a new heavens and a new earth that are waiting for us in the future. And that means that while we wait for Jesus to return to fix everything things might get hard. There will be some sad days. And there is an evil enemy, Satan, trying to trick us and make us doubt God and his promises.
But just like the Jewish exiles of old, Jesus has promised us a hope filled future with him. An eternal life of “welfare.” This word “welfare” is an important word. It is the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom means goodness, and peace, and flourishing, and it means that everything is right with the world. That is what Jesus is promising us. A world where everything bad is good again. Everything sad is happy. Everything hard is easy. Everything sinful is gone forever.
And while we wait for that day of God’s shalom, we can have shalom inside of us knowing that God will never, ever, ever stop loving us, even when we’re in exile.
Because of Jesus we will live forever in the shalom of God.
With Jesus we can have hope each day, knowing that these hard days won’t last forever.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Here’s a video from the Bible Project that explains the word Shalom. It’s a bit advanced but also a great overview. Talk with your kids about shalom/peace and what it might feel like inside of them to have shalom, and what it might look like in your house if there was shalom (remember, shalom is not only the absence of conflict, it’s the making of all things good or whole).
You have promised me a future of peace and good days. Help me to hope in you.
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