Indeed-Fear and Hope

For several months now I have been rather consistent in doing my daily devotions as guided by Indeed Magazine. Tuesday’s entry for this week was focused on a verse that I must admit leaves me with an unsettled feeling. When my wife, Lisa, passed away, I had a hard struggle with understanding and reconciling Romans 8:28. I knew that Lisa loved God and had a personal relationship with Him, so how then could her death be “working together for good”? Eventually, though, after reading Romans 8:28 in The Message, I realized that it wasn’t necessarily talking about all things working together in the here-and-now or in Lisa’s lifetime. Instead it meant that something good would be worked out of her death after the fact. Something good in the Grand Plan of God would come out of my daughter and I enduring this trial.

“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:28 (MSG)

And so, Romans 8:28 came to make sense to me even though it at first made me quite angry and frustrated. However, the verse that came up in Tuesday’s reading for Indeed Magazine does not make sense to me even now two and a half years after Lisa’s death. It’s a verse that a friend had given to Lisa on a note of encouragement just before she went into the hospital the last time, and a verse that appeared on some of the get-well cards, too:

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I don’t understand how this can be quoted as a promise to us today. Well, ok, maybe it’s not so hard to imagine it being a promise to me or anyone currently living, but how was this a promise to Lisa? Even The Message doesn’t help out this time:

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)

The devotional text doesn’t help me along either:
“….Don’t believe it? That’s because you’ve been burned by circumstances before. We all have, so we find God’s promise of hope and a future difficult to believe. It isn’t that we don’t trust Him; we just know how He defines “good.” It isn’t always how we define it. He even allowed some of His best servants to be martyred–people to whom He had promised “hope and a future.” That scares us….”

Well, no, I wouldn’t actually say it “scares” me. I’d say it confuses me to no end. How can dying from a long, slow, painful illness in a hospital bed away from friends and family be considered “a hope and a future”?

The only thing in Tuesday’s reading that helped at all was the Additional Reading portion:
“When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can’t break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:17-20 (MSG)

Nope, that still doesn’t answer the question, but it does remind me who it is that stands behind the answer and the promise…even though the answer is still not understood by me.