September 7 | Jeremiah 28:5-11
Is This Most Certainly True?
by Katie Borden
Have you ever longed so deeply for something in life to be true, even though you weren’t sure it would ever actually materialize? Perhaps it was something personal to you—a career you weren’t sure would pan out, a child you feared may never come, or a cure from a disease from which you weren’t sure you or someone you loved would ever be free. Perhaps your hope has been something more communal or systemic—a cure for cancer; honest legislation and healthy governance; reconciliation between disparate parties.
We often pray for these kinds of things, and we want so much to believe when someone tells us to expect the good news our hearts have longed for. And often, we who see those around us longing, hoping, and praying for these kinds of things want to encourage our loved ones by telling them that these things will come to pass. But if we’re not careful, we might find ourselves placing certain hope where it does not belong.
If I were to read today’s Scripture passage sympathetically, I can imagine that the prophet Hananiah might have fallen prey to this kind of temptation. To see your fellow sisters and brothers in pain is hard for any of us, and in an effort to bring them hope, I think Hananiah made an eager, well-intended, but irresponsible promise to God’s people.
And Jeremiah called him out on it, but not without sympathy. I hear Jeremiah’s “Amen” in this passage as “Oh, how I wish this were true, and I long that what you have prophesied would come to pass!” But it’s not a certain outcome--at least, not in Hananiah's timeline.
We want to hang our hats on certainties in this life. We are creatures who long for stability and assurance. But in this broken world, there is very little of that. And I promise, I’m not preaching anything I haven’t lived. I’ve had a few “surprise” life circumstances of my own, and they have all served to teach me that our truest “Amens,” much as we want to spend them on things in this world, can only be found in the promises of God. Martin Luther uses the phrase "This is most certainly true" time and time again, and as I spent time this week in Luther's Small Catechism, I've thought about how often we want to apply that statement to areas and circumstances in our lives that don't warrant it. Our other life hopes need the test of time to determine their authenticity, but God’s word and God’s promises are timeless. I am so thankful for the words of truth in our Creed that reminds us of the fullness of the promises of God and the life that is available to us in him—and that life is certain. No amount of life circumstances, heartaches, or surprises can take away what God has given us in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, our deepest, truest hopes come true.
You can hang your hat on that.