What Plans?

For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 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. (Jeremiah 29: 10-11)

One of my favorite children’s authors is Judith Viorst. In her book, If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries, she wrote:

If I were in charge of the world,
I’d cancel oatmeal,
Monday mornings,
Allergy shots,
If I were in charge of the world,
You wouldn’t have lonely,
You wouldn’t have clean,
You wouldn’t have bedtimes,
You wouldn’t even have sisters.
If I were in charge of the world,
A chocolate sundae with whipped cream and nuts would be a vegetable,
All 007 movies would be rated G,
And a person who sometimes forgot to brush,
And sometimes forgot to flush,
Would still be allowed to be in charge of the world.

Don’t you just love it? I think every kid imagines being in charge of the world at one time or another. And sometimes, I think that they would do a better job than us adults. Especially these days.

The Scripture for today is spoken to a people who had begun to have second or third thoughts about God’s plan for their community. They had been in exile far from home and saw no end in sight. They had begun to question God’s goodness. They were lamenting that things would never change. I am writing this before the election, without any knowledge of the outcome, yet I am clinging to hope for a different kind of future. The word of God came through the prophet Jeremiah to offer them a promise of hope. I discovered something new as I studied this passage again. God’s promise for all of us is shalom – a Hebrew word that has a wide range of meetings – wholeness, peace, welfare, and goodness. God is promising a life of shalom, something which does not depend on outward circumstances but on inward vision. For us to live in shalom, we need to be able to trust God’s purposes even in the midst of the most trying circumstances. I don’t know about you, but I am choosing to trust that God’s plans always contain a seed of hope-filled shalom. Especially these days.

Prayer Focus: For a nation seeking shalom

In this season that cries out for voices of peace, we pray the words attributed to St. Francis:

O Lord make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow your love. Where there is injury, pardon, where there is discord, harmony, where there is error, truth, where there is doubt, faith, where there is despair, hope, where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness joy. Let all God’s people say, Amen.