Jeremiah 29 is probably the most well-known chapter in that book; it’s the chapter when Jeremiah writes to the exiles banished from Israel and tells them that this exile isn’t going to be over quickly, but that this difficult period of Israel’s history should not be taken to mean that God has forsaken them. In actual fact, He has good plans for them, plans to give them hope and a future, plans not to harm them but to prosper them. For the people, they are given very pragmatic instructions: to build houses, to plan marriages, to plant seeds, to pray for the prosperity of this foreign city. They are to learn to live with hope, even when pain and suffering are present.

Reinhold Niebuhr said that ‘nothing worth doing can be accomplished in a single lifetime… therefore we are saved by hope.’ This reminds us that we need to take the long view and learn to live our lives with a ‘long obedience in the same direction.’ (Nietzsche) We may not necessarily see all we hope to see in our own lifetimes, but we can be sure that God’s purposes will ultimately be fulfilled. This gives hope to every situation and means we can serve God with gladness and faithfulness, leaving the final picture to Him!