Hope, Healing & Freedom Podcast
Today, our key verse is found in Jeremiah 29:11, which says:
“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
When you think of Hope what comes to mind? Is it that feeling you get when you think maybe you found the miracle product that will finally help you lose 20 pounds? Is it when you feel that your current relationship might work? Or when you think that your prodigal child is coming home? Or maybe that your new job will provide a better income for you and your family?
Webster’s dictionary says that HOPE is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. I’ve also heard it said that HOPE is the expectation of good.
During this last season of winter the days and nights have been long and cold. The first signs of change of season are the green leaves and the bright yellow petals representing that the last season is coming to an end. Soon the days will be warmer and longer and the nights will be filled with chirping frogs and buzzing insects. The daffodils are up! There is HOPE! Winter is coming to an end and Spring is on the way. That is a picture of hope.
Sometimes it’s easier to describe the absence of something than the presence of it. When you are without hope there is the feeling and belief that nothing will change. Often when you’re without hope you find yourself struggling in life. You find it difficult to believe that good things will happen for you. Life will always be difficult. Relationships will always fail. You will never have enough money. You’ve made so many mistakes that there is no way out, therefore there is no hope. There is no expectation of good. Wherever there is hopelessness there is despair. Where there is despair it opens the door for depression to enter.
As Russian novelist and short-story writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky says, “ To live without hope is to cease to live.”
A few years ago we were going through a tough time. We had 3 difficult situations take place back to back. The picture I get is that it was like being in a boxing ring. One opponent came in and knocked me down. I got back up to face the second opponent. We fought back and forth. Mainly me trying to defend myself from the attack as he was the aggressor. That time when I went down on the mat I got up but more slowly than the first time. I was tired, beat up, worn down, tired and hope was waning. By the third “attack” I was down for the count. I was enveloped by hopelessness, despair entered and depression followed. I’ve never dealt with depression before but I did then. Thankfully with the prayers of my husband and friends I didn’t stay in that place long. It was a wake up call .
But God says in 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.”
In this verse we see the truth of what God says. He has plans for me and for you. His plans are to prosper you. Prosper means to flourish physically; grow strong and healthy. Our Father God wants to see us grow strong and healthy. His plans are to give us Hope (expectation of Good) and a future!
I can hear the BUT. But my life isn’t looking like hope. Where do we get that expectation of good when our circumstances are speaking the opposite? How does one shed the heaviness of hopelessness?
We have to get rid of the hopelessness to embrace hope. The two cannot co-exist together. Our minds need renewed to cancel agreement with the lies we’re believing so we can embrace God’s truth and hope. I know it’s easier said than done, right? You have to make a tough decision. Do I want my life to continue the way it is? Or do I want my life to change? Only you can decide. Others can want good things for you but they can’t change for you…only you can.
There is a great exchange that happens when we make the decision. We give him our hopelessness and He gives us hope in exchange. His plans are to prosper and not to harm, plans to give hope and a future. When we dare to believe that what He says is true we open the door for hope.
There is a story in I Samuel 28-30 that is powerful. It’s a story about David going from absolute hopelessness where the circumstances were dire to celebration and hope!
Through a series of circumstances David found himself fighting side by side with his “enemies” the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 27:1 “David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand.”
He had left his own land and people because King Saul kept trying to kill him. He asked the Philistines if he could live in their land. Remember the Philistines? Goliath, the giant that David killed, was one of the Philistines. Often David would inquire of the Lord (IOTL) but this time he didn’t. He just picked up and moved into enemy territory along with 600 disgruntled men and their families. The Philistines gave him Ziklag where he could make a home. That’s pretty bad when you feel safer living with the enemy than with your own people.
While in Philistine territory David fought alongside the Philistines. He fought their enemies. King Achish, the Philistine King, had some of his men that got suspicious that David would turn against them. King Achish he sent him “home” to Ziklag. When David and his rag tag group of men reached Ziklag they discovered that another enemy, the Amaelkites had burned the city to the ground and had kidnapped their wives and children. Then the men that were with him turned against him and there was talk of stoning him. That’s what I’d call a really bad day.
Just imagine for a moment. You’re trying to escape a unbalanced, deranged King in your own land that is out to kill you, you move to another land and help fight the enemies there only to have your homes burned to the ground and your wives and children kidnapped. Then the men that are supposed to be your most trusted followers turn on you. What does David do? I Sam 30: 6 says,“Now David was greatly distressed for the people talked of stoning him, because every soul was grieved, every man for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” Then he goes and meets with the priest. This time he stops and inquires of the Lord (IOTL). He asks if he should pursue the enemies that stole his wife and children. Let’s stop here for a minute. That seems like a no-brainer. Of course you’d go after the enemies that had your children wouldn’t you? Apparently not. David needed to know that God was with him in his mission and in the timing. He asked, Shall I overtake them? And God answered through the priest, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail, recover all.” David obeyed, after inquiring of the Lord. He indeed did pursue, overtake and he recovered all!
That’s an amazing story. David’s family and the families of all of his men had been kidnapped. They didn’t even know where they’d been taken but God provided the intel needed through a discarded Amalekite servant. There are so many lessons in this story for us. In the midst of great hopelessness David did the most important thing. He strengthened himself in the Lord. What does that exactly mean? He reminded himself of who God is. He took his eyes off of the problem and He turned his focus to God. Because of his history with God he knew God was faithful. He knew that God had good plans for him. He turned. He inquired of the Lord. God spoke. David obeyed and Life changed. He went from hopelessness to celebration! He went from about to be stoned to hero!
Friend, be encouraged today that there is hope for you. Whatever is going on in your life, no matter how bad it is, there is hope. God has not changed his mind, he’s not thrown away his plans for you. It’s your time to take the steps to begin your turnaround.
Father God, I thank you for hope. Our hope is in you! I thank you that no matter what our circumstances are, they are not too difficult for you. We choose today to take our eyes off of the challenges that we are facing and look at how big you are. Like David we choose to strengthen ourselves in you by embracing the truth of Jer. 29:11. You have a hope for our lives. You have a future for us and your plans are good.
Declaration: Today begins my turnaround. I give Him my hopelessness and I embrace the hope he has for me.
Psalms David wrote after Ziklag : Strengthening yourself in the Lord
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.Psalm 18:6
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.Psalm 27:1-2
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.Psalm 34:1-6
Psalm 40:1-3, Psalm 42:1-6, Psalm 52:1-4