For the last several years, I have selected a Word of the Year. One word that grounds me, guides me, and gives me focus. One word that influences the work I do, the choices I make, and the way I navigate my everyday life. It’s my hope that this word will provide focus, so I might grow and mature in all areas of my life: body, mind, soul, and spirit. Past selections for my “Word of the Year” include:
This year, it seems the word chose me. From guest preacher’s sermons at church, to Christmas coffee cups found in the cupboard in September, to random car license plates seen while visiting family in Montana, this word has been everywhere that I’ve turned, or so it’s seems.
My Word of the Year for 2020 is HOPE.
Without hope, we have nothing. Hope, as defined in the Bible, denotes a firm assurance. Oftentimes, when we are smack dab in the middle of real life, we can lose hope. And the mission of the Enemy of our Soul is to steal our hope. Yet, in Christ, we always have REAL hope to cling to, regardless of what we have faced, will face, or are facing in our lives. Hope transcends our circumstances.
The Bible verse that I’ll be clinging to is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
A few years ago, I really dug into this verse. It’s a good one, but unfortunately, it’s been taken out of context, which minimizes the significance of its contextual meaning, but also it’s meaning for us in the hear and now. It’s not merely a ‘feel good’ verse. There’s much depth to its meaning, but when taken out of context that is lost.
The prophet, Jeremiah, is relating these words to the Israelites who are in captivity. Not long after he had confronted Hananiah, a false prophet, who was making erroneous promises about what he could do, what God would do, and what was going to happen, specifically in the life of the Israelites.
Oh, it’s true: Jeremiah did say that God had good plans for the Israelites, but….(and there’s always a but, right?) It may not come about as quickly as they’d want, but definitely not as fast as Hananiah was claiming. In fact, if we jump back a few verses to verses 7-10, we can more clearly glean the context. See, in order to get to the good stuff of life, they had to endure the hard stuff.
Hananiah gave them false hope and outright lied when he said that God would free them in two years. Jeremiah, on the other hand, tells them God would, in fact, fulfill his promises, but it would be “…after seventy years are completed in Babylon.” (verse 10)
So, you may be thinking, “Jada, why did you select this verse? How is this related to hope?”
Well, God does have good plans for me with a glorious hope and future, but….we can’t lose sight of the hope that is birthed and developed in the midst of real life—even the difficult seasons that knock the wind out of us. The ones the Enemy would like to use to take us out. This is the type of season that me and my family have endured, which is why “RESILIENT” was last year’s word.
All of 2019, I kept that word in the forefront of my mind, while clinging to James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
And after persevering in the midst of one of the most difficult seasons of my life and fighting forward, day by day, into a new season, I began to see a glimmer of HOPE—real HOPE. And even though life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, there’s still things to work through and losses to grieve, the promises of Jeremiah 29:11 are being revealed in my life.
This is why my Word of the Year for 2020 is HOPE!