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
God speaks these words to His people exiled in Babylon. He promises that He plans their good, to restore them to Israel, and to provide a future filled with hope.
Hope is the belief in and the desire of what is known but not seen. For that reason, hope is often tied to restoration; we hope for something we know we had, but have since lost. Here, God promises His people redemption, a return to the promised land, a restoration.
The stories of Robin Hood confused me when I was younger. Others would argue it could be right to rob the rich and give to the poor. To me, the moral answer was clear: no. It is never right to commit an evil act, even if you have a good motive.
I thought I was mature and principled. No one could convince me that Robin Hood and his men were right, no matter how merry they were. Still… I wished that they were right. It makes a good story.
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc was a similar mystery. She is a Saint of the Catholic Church, but she waged war against other Catholics. It seemed especially strange because the Englishmen she fought were in her land because of Henry V, one of my favorite Shakespearean heroes. Why would God so favor the French people that He would raise up a Saint to lead them to victory?
Mark Twain’s version of the story helped me understand. Joan brought hope to her people. This wasn’t hope as modern movies and shows demand. It was hope like that of Jerusalem in the psalms.
Let Israel rejoice in its Maker,Psalm 149:2-4
Let Zion’s sons exult in their King,
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in His people.
He crowns the poor with salvation.
This hope leads to spiritual healing and joy. In giving her people hope, Joan demonstrated God’s care for even their material lives. Through this material restoration of joy, she restored their spiritual heritage as adopted children of God.
God truly values hope. It is a theological virtue, and those who have it themselves, those who restore it to others, are blessed. The stories of Robin Hood enshrine that truth. He scorns evil, its power and its rules. He leads his men to victory. He makes England ready to welcome the King, when he comes again.
In the same way, we must hope as we fight the material and spiritual evils of our day. Joan inspired joy. Robin’s men were merry. Can we, who are led by a greater Captain, Christ Himself, be otherwise?
Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord…Jeremiah 29:12-14
Our King will come again. We await Him in courage and hope.