Hope In Thine End
Jeremiah 25:32 - Jeremiah 30:18
This morning I drove past a large field by my house.
It is a huge field that sits vacant all through the year.
No one plants on it. No one waters it.
Most of the time it is covered in dry weeds and baked mud.
Except for today.
Today it was covered in beautiful yellow flowers.
I drove by and thought to myself, Can beauty be found in wilderness places?
Which led me to wonder, Can contentment be found in captivity?
Can peace be found in the midst of great trial?
In the twenty-ninth chapter of Jeremiah we read of a group of people who have not found favor with the Lord. Because of their disobedience, the Lord allowed this group of people to be carried away captive from Jerusalem into Babylon.
Sometimes our refining moments come as a result of our own choices. Other times they come through the process of mortality, by no choice or consequence of our own. Either way, the lesson we are about to learn from Jeremiah is applicable.
The Lord counsels the people, “Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.” (Jeremiah 29:6-7 emphasis added)
Obviously these people are about to spend a lot of time in that place of refinement –enough time to build houses, plant gardens, marry and raise children and grandchildren. This news must have been worrisome to the people: for immediately they knew this refinement process wasn’t going to just last a couple of years. They would have to wait on the Lord, which meant they would have to trust His timing.
The Lord gave them some important counsel ––through that period of trial He wanted them to experience an increase, and not be diminished. Is the same lesson applicable in our own lives? Can we experience growth through trial? Can we experience an increase?
Then the Lord said, “…seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” (Jeremiah 28:7) The footnote for peace defines the Greek translation of the word as contentment. I find it interesting that the Lord counseled the people to seek the peace of the city, to find contentment in the place of refinement. Knowing that this period of their lives would be challenging and that it would last a long time, the Lord encouraged them to pray to receive peace.
How hard would it have been to find contentment within the captivity?
It is difficult to be content with the place where you are when it’s not the place where you want to be.
The last counsel the Lord gave Jeremiah’s people included a blessing, “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place…For I know the thoughts that I think toward you saith the Lord, thoughts of peace…to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14 emphasis added)
Seventy years is a long time.
The people were in a place that was far from home, held captive by an unfamiliar people. But the Lord did not leave them without hope ––He gave them a wonderful promise. Even though they would experience that trial for 70 years, the Lord promised they would not be forgotten. He would keep them in His thoughts. He promised to send peace, to answer their prayers, and to always be found by them. There was only one condition on their part ––they had to seek for Him with all their heart.
Not just a part of the heart…He wanted all of it.
One of my favorite lines in this verse is found in the footnote of a word in the first sentence.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace… to give you an expected end.”
If you follow the footnote for end it leads to Jeremiah 31:17 which reads,
“…and there is hope in thine end.”
Have you ever been in a trial that seemed like it would never end? Have you prayed to find peace within the trial? Did that experience teach you about what it means to trust in the Lord's timing?
Last fall several unexpected events led to my husband's unemployment. It was a scary time. The first thing he did was ask for a Priesthood blessing. The counsel from the blessing was clear, "The Lord has something in mind for you. Be patient. Wait."
So we waited. And while we waited Greg took care of the list of "Honey-do's" I have been keeping for several years. When he finished the list and there was no job on the horizon we began to worry. Greg asked for another Priesthood blessing. The counsel was the same, "The Lord has something in mind for you. Be patient. Wait."
Waiting is hard. By the end of January things began to look desperate. We prayed fervently that the Lord would speed things up. Again we turned to the Lord. Again the counsel was the same. "The Lord has something in mind for you. Be patient. Wait."
Finally, at the end of March we stumbled upon a business opportunity. Things fell into place faster than we could have ever anticipated. We bought a business from a woman whose husband had just passed away from cancer. As my husband was talking to her about the events of her life over the last several months she began to talk about the last few weeks of January...the weeks right before her husband passed away. As she spoke, my husband remembered how desperate those weeks had been for us, as we prayed fervently that the Lord would speed things up. During those same weeks the woman's family had been praying too...that the Lord would slow things down. So they would have more time together as a family. So the kids would have more time with their dad.
As my husband told me that story it was a defining moment in my life. I learned what it meant to trust the Lord's timing.
The Lord knew what was happening in both of our lives. He knew our family was going to be OK. He was orchestrating the events of that time period so things would be best for both families.
We just needed to trust Him and in doing so, we would be led to find peace within the trial. Contentment within the captivity. Grace within the wilderness place.
There is great comfort that comes from understanding that the Lord knows the thoughts that He thinks towards each of us, thoughts of peace, to give us an expected end.
But an even greater comfort comes from His promise that there will be hope in the end.
Because no matter what the end brings, He will be there.
He is that hope.