steve korch

pursuing the art of creative communication.

HOPE(03): looking beyond myself

In the final years of the 7th century BC, the prophet Jeremiah spoke to a society that had overvalued themselves and placed their hopes in their own genius. Their focus had turned inward and they had become the heroes of their own stories. The prophet forecast the inevitable failure of such thinking, but also presented the good news of an alternative. (Jer. 17:7)

“Blessed is the brave person whose hope is in the LORD and whose hope is the LORD.”

As I looked into this layered statement, I made four observations that stood out to me and drew several corresponding insights that contribute to my understanding of hope.

One observation addresses the basis for hope. The text speaks to a hope that looks outside of myself. The focus on the LORD—Yahweh—the God of my redemption. It is not a hope that is counting on philosophy, methodology or scheming. It’s not wishful thinking that all will turn out well. Rather, it is confidence in a specific Someone who has made explicit promises and has the ability to deliver them. It is hope in Yahweh.

I believe this means that in order to activate such hope, I must continually acknowledge that I am not enough for the common demands of this life and certainly not enough for the greater challenges that I encounter along the way. It means that I must repeatedly give up the desperate attempt to be the hero of my own story and willingly give that role to the one who is my Redeemer God. I must choose to place full confidence in Him as my only true hope.

“Blessed is the brave person whose hope is in the LORD and whose hope is the LORD.”

A second observation addresses the object of hope. This text identifies both the means and the end. It is not only a hope in the LORD as the hero of the story—a means to something I desire. He is also the fulfillment of such a hope. He is Himself the great reward—the longing of the soul.

I believe this second observation is the game-changer. It is one thing for me to realize that I am inadequate and to seek help from the LORD, but that is only half of the equation presented in this ancient text. God does not offer to Himself as the enabler of my misdirected dreams. He offers Himself as the fulfillment of those dreams. The statement only works as a whole, not in part.

“Blessed is the brave person whose hope is in the LORD and whose hope is the LORD.”

A another observation focuses on the outcome of such hope. The prophet presents this outcome in stark contrast to all other formulas for hope. Back up two verses and we read, “Doomed to disappointment and failure is the one who risks everything by placing hope in the earthy things of this life and counting on oneself to be enough for whatever lies ahead.”

Jeremiah announces that anyone who centers their hope in the LORD discovers a dramatically different outcome. “Blessed” is a word that expresses a sense of being favored or fortunate—the recipient of good things. It conveys a sense of well-being that results, in this statement, from confidence in the LORD.

“Blessed is the brave person whose hope is in the LORD and whose hope is the LORD.”

But there is one more observation I have made here—one that could be easily overlooked. I noticed that Jeremiah addressed his audience with a word that emphasizes a certain characteristic. He used a word that describes someone who is brave or willing to take a risk. Now, I suppose that any hope is a risky venture—particularly hope in the LORD. I have found that releasing the grip on self-determination may be easy in theory, but it is quite difficult in practice. 

As much as I would like to tell myself that I’m enough (or at least I can be if I work at it), there’s a voice within me that whispers from the shadows of my thoughts that I’m doomed to failure. It’s a risk to look beyond myself and center my hope on someone else. It is a risk, but it’s worth it.

 

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