I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. — Jeremiah 29:11
This verse from Jeremiah is one of the most inspirational in the Bible. I remember stumbling upon it while in a dark period of my life back in the ’80s, and it’s remained a constant building block of faith.
The problem is that, technically, these words weren’t meant for a Christian in the 20th century dealing with depression. Jeremiah was writing to the dispersed, exiled people of Judah, giving them a hopeful word from the Lord. So, also technically, we should interpret Scripture based on context, the author’s intention, etc. My finding hope from Jeremiah 29:11, in other words, was just wishful thinking.
But not so fast. Read the New Testament and the early Christians always read the Hebrew Bible from the perspective of Jesus’ life and ministry. For them, everything either pointed to Christ or was interpreted in light of him. Even though the writer might have had something else in mind originally, we now see the old words in a newer, more immediate way. If God is really the Parent Jesus believed–with a passion for compassion as well as a zeal for justice–then the Bible is truly a mosaic. Individual verses fit into the larger picture painted by the life of Christ.
This is simply a long way of saying that the Holy Spirit has made the Bible more than a literary exercise. The Spirit of Jesus allows the Scripture to be God’s whisper in the night to us, letting us know that an unimaginably strong love accompanies us along life’s twists and turns.
Or, as the prophet once said, we now have a future filled with hope.