This weekend I went to a conference designed to help me understand and learn more about what career paths are available to me once I've finished with my degree. Presenters spoke on a myriad of job areas including government, policy, business, academia, education (no, those are not the same), consulting and more. There were also workshops on resume writing, networking and other useful skills for a job search. I got a lot of great info and access to lots of resources to help me decide what I want to do next.
As I was processing the events of the day this verse came to mind:
"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."
That verse from Jeremiah 29 is quoted at every turn. Many times, the focus is on the "plans to prosper you and not harm you" (NIV) as we face times of need (or, let's be real, want) or other times of adversity.
But the part that really stuck out to me was "to give you a future with hope." At my conference this weekend, I didn't receive any supernatural revelation about what I want to do with the rest of my life, and in fact, I'm still pretty clueless about exactly what I want in a career. But I got so excited after just the first day of this two-day conference for this reason: I realized that while the future was uncertain, there WAS a future out there; I could put my hope in the diversity of career options, even though I don't know which of them I will end up in.
This is, I think, the greatest part of this verse in Jeremiah: even when we don't have a clue, God has a plan in place, and this plan includes a future, it includes hope. I am hopeful even in my uncertainty, because I know that my sovereign God already knows what my future holds, and I put my hope and my trust in him.
It was such a hope that Jeremiah prophesied over Israel, right after telling them that they would be in bondage for almost a century. A future with hope, that did not seem bright, but in which their lives would be overseen, rather than overlooked by God. The hope was built on the knowledge that the God of Israel, who had chosen them as his people, had plans for them: the Lord knew what was to come.
This hope does not disappoint.
This hope may also not look like our plans, because our plans can never encompass what is for our ultimate good: we don't have the power to see that. But we know as God's servants, those who have been called by God, everything is for our good, even when we don't understand. We trust God to do His will, knowing that not only does God know the end of our individual and collective story, but also that God has a track record of being faithful to his beloved.
This is why we hope. This is how we can hope.
Be blessed and shine hopefully!