Jeremiah 33:14-16: The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
Hope is a difficult emotion. Shame researcher, professor, and social worker, Brene Brown, says, “While the cynic might argue that someone who clings to hope is a sucker…this type of armor typically comes from pain.” She explains that the ones who are truly hopeful are the brave souls willing to risk vulnerability.
I think Jeremiah was such a guy. His circumstances weren’t pretty! And yet, he proclaims, “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Just a few chapters before this, Jeremiah was told by God to settle down into the land of exile because God would not deliver the people anytime soon. Jeremiah knows that he will not live to see deliverance himself, but chooses to trust in hope anyway. He paints an exquisite picture of hope, not in spite of, but because of, his miserable circumstances.
Jeremiah is referring to the coming of a Saviour, a Messiah, a deliverer into the world. God’s plan for justice was not just to smite all the sinners, but to offer deliverance, restitution, and a way forward for people who are caught in the chains of oppression.
It’s easy to be a cynic in the world today. Carey Nieuwhof, author of Didn’t See It Coming, argues that, “Most cynics are former optimists.” But then life happens and you “decide to stop trusting, hoping, and believing.” It’s a choice. Jeremiah had the deck stacked against him. He wasn’t happy. But he was still hopeful.
Jeremiah chose to trust in the hope of the coming Messiah, to trust in the deliverance of God’s people, even though he wouldn’t personally get to see it. His worldview expanded beyond personhood and into a corporate identity, which allowed him to hope in Jesus.
As we prepare for Christmas this year, are you going to consciously decide to hope? You may not perceive the world as a hopeful place. Perhaps you don’t see your life as very hopeful either. If our worldviews are isolated to reflective tunnel vision (never seeing beyond our mirror), then there isn’t much hope in that. But if we consciously decide to grow our worldview and choose to trust in hope there is a deliverer.
Jesus, the Saviour of the oppressed, came into the world in the form of a baby, from the humble roots of a pregnant, teenage mom. Not exactly what the Israelites had in mind for a royal entry! And yet, it is this Jesus who provides a hope worth trusting in.
This upside-down theology of God, not as mighty conqueror, but as humble servant is the only thing that I would hang my hat on at the end of the day. Humans try to conquer through sheer force. But God, our God, delivers the oppressed with the hand of justice—pierced with a nail on our behalf…and not our’s only, but on behalf of a world desperately in need of experiencing justice.
Choose to trust in hope. Choose to put your heart out there and believe that God will ultimately come through. Choose to be vulnerable this holiday season, knowing that Jesus doesn’t leave us hanging, but fulfills his promises.
Challenge: Take a hike. Get outdoors in the snow/frost/cold and spend some time hiking. You can go with family or friends, but try hiking in silence. As you walk, meditate on what it means to have hope in Jesus.
Consider these questions: What are the implications of placing your hope in God? What are you feeling as you walk? What insights are coming up from reading in Jeremiah or another passage? If you have read the passage before, do you see it in a new light now?
Here are a couple of suggested passages: