There’s a very old traditional hymn of the church that has in its chorus the line: ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus. All other ground is sinking sand.’
It certainly feels like we are standing on sinking sand at the moment, doesn’t it? Just when we get our head around one state of being, the ground sinks from under us and our footing is not as firm as we first thought. This uncertainty raises the age old battle between fear and faith.
Faith is having confidence in what we cannot see. It is found in the unknown and yet it is tricky to grab hold of during these sinking sand times. Fear, on the other hand, can inhibit our growth, paralysing us. This can capture our joy and mean we don’t experience life in all its fullness.
One of my favourite verses from the Bible comes from Jeremiah 29:11 – ‘For I know the plans I have for you says God, plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a hope and a future.’
This verse comes from a really interesting story. The book of Jeremiah retells the story of the Israelites as they have been taken away from their promised land and held in captivity in Babylon. Forced to live in a foreign land, they were losing hope that things would ever get better. They were sad and frightened; they were experiencing loss and anguish – nothing seemed sure.
Sound familiar? The idea of hope and freedom was an outcome way too distant from their reality.
Jeremiah the prophet had the task of sharing God’s instructions during this time. God’s promise of a future and hope was given in the middle of their exile, they were encouraged not to be dismayed or uncertain of what was to come next.
No doubt the Israelites had difficulty claiming this promise. I know when I am going through times in my life of uncertainty and despair I feel like shaking my fist at God and demanding that He replace the hurt and brokenness I am experiencing with His ‘Hope and Future’. When we feel disappointed or unsure, this can make trusting God feel impossible, but He encourages us to put our trust in His character, not in our circumstances. Trusting God and having faith go hand-in-hand.
When we don’t know what is around the corner, it is easy to feel afraid. The possibility of the next circumstances being worse than how we currently find ourselves is reason enough to feel fearful. However, our hope is not in what comes next, it is in a good God who exists throughout time. Our hope is in a God who made good on His promises to Israel. He did bring them out of captivity as He promised and continued to keep His promises even to us today, proving that He is trustworthy and works everything together for good. God knows every step we take and promises to be with us through it all.
In these times of uncertainty, I am choosing to live one day at a time, knowing that whether or not my next footstep falls on sinking sand, this truth remains: God is good and He is present.
Janine de Paiva
Junior School Chaplain