The three of us clasped hands and bowed our heads. We were standing in the middle of a discount department store aisle, praying for an employee who was battling brain cancer. Covering the lower half of her face was a protective mask to ward off the threat of germs.
My friend, Sonya, knew the employee and introduced us. As the woman’s story unfolded, I learned it wasn’t her first battle with cancer. Her fighting spirit drew me in as did her positive attitude.
The best growth comes through persevering through trials.
As we continued shopping, we struck up a conversation with another store employee who had beat cancer. She shared her amazing story of healing. Placed on hospice, her only hope was divine intervention. Prayers were answered and this amazing woman is, indeed, a walking miracle.
Both women have placed their hope in God. Hope. What does it look like? For me, hope shines brightest when I’m at my lowest.
Hope is the word I recently chose to study in the scriptures. Each morning, after I read my daily devotional, I turn to the concordance in the back of my Women of Faith Bible and look up verses referencing hope. One of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11: “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.”
The word “prosper” jumps out at us. Immediately, we think of material riches. But this verse is often taken out of context.
Author Mary DeMuth, addressing this misunderstanding, explains. “The heart of the verse is ‘not that we would escape our lot, but that we would learn to thrive’ in the midst of it.”
However, to understand, we need the back story. In exile, the Israelites were being punished by God as result of their disobedience. Jeremiah, the prophet, confronts Hananiah, the false prophet, for boldly proclaiming that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in two years. Confronting Hananiah’s lie, Jeremiah states the promise we read in this verse. God did indeed have a good plan for the fickle Israelites.
However, Jeremiah’s message from God in the seventh verse says, “seek the peace and the 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.”
Was this the message the Israelites wanted to hear? Hardly! Then, God hits them with a bigger blow. In verse 10, He reveals His promise will be fulfilled after 70 years. The current generation would never return to their home.
DeMuth writes, “…let’s remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely.”
Cling to the truth where you will find hope in the midst of trials. Hope. You can’t bottle it. You can’t buy it. However, you can share it.