For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~ Jeremiah 29:11
Have you failed in anything during the past year? I'm going to guess that the answer is a big “YES.” I certainly have. And in my own case — and I think, in many other peoples’ cases — some of the failures have been in things that I considered selfless, or at least a “good cause.” People fail in their attempts to stop committing a persistent sin, for example.
But we must remember one specific and central thing about God’s plan for us. No matter how many times we may fail, and no matter how huge and spectacular the failure may be, it has a purpose. God’s plan for us is for a success so perfect, so large, so eternal, that our eventual success will eclipse all of our failures in life and make them into nothing.
Our memory verse comes from Jeremiah and, in context, specifically concerns the Jews. We know from the Bible that, in one sense, Judaism was a complete failure. It was doomed from the beginning; the Law was actually incapable of bringing salvation to those who followed it. Israel came closest to fulfilling the Law in the reign of David; but the very next king (Solomon) sinned so badly that Israel was torn asunder, conquered, dispersed, and exiled.
Yet, the failure of the Law was not final, for the failure was part of God’s plan. He intended that the Hebrews would fail; the Law was necessary that the Jews, and the world, might understand its sin and be prepared to hear the message of the Messiah. (Galatians 3:19) Christ “accomplished the purpose for which the law was given.” (Romans 10:4)
And so our personal failures and failings can be seen in the light of Jeremiah. Not only is failure not permanent, but it can be part of God’s plan for our perfection and salvation. No matter how desperate we may feel at our situation in life, God gives us “a future and a hope.” Our plans are made of straw, but God’s plan for us is made of invincible spirit. So we should never feel despair; our future is assured, even in our failures.
This is the time of year to put all sense of failure behind us and look to the future. Let us stride into the New Year in absolute faith and abundant hope, for God’s plan is our welfare, a promise of total victory.
Lord, let me always find hope in your promise to me. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer