This is the season for graduation commencement addresses. Last week I heard an address that featured an unconventional book often quoted at graduation—the famous Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Commencement speeches tend to point students toward a life ahead. They encourage further learning beyond the classroom. After all, formal education only prepares one for a lifetime of learning; life's experiences are the real training ground. And anyone beginning a new phase in life can expect a fair share of them.
Trouble always seems to be on the horizon for some. Today's news is particularly bleak with bad economic news, political upheaval and natural disasters. I read that today's job market for graduates is the toughest in decades. I don't doubt it. The recession and financial upheaval of the last two years has wreaked havoc on the economy. The European debt crisis of several countries threatens to cause further damage. The financial future looks daunting.
I'll share something with you. I have stopped watching the evening news for several reasons, one of which is the continual dripping of negativity and criticism. Instead, I stay informed by following the news mainly on the Internet and in a couple of daily newspapers. There is a lot of bad news, and it is aggravated by the demands of a 24-hour news cycle that feeds an information-crazed world. People's need to know is reaping a harvest of cynicism and doubt.
This inundation of negative news casts doubt on the future for new graduates and for everyone. Where is a beacon of hope for the future? Where do we turn to find the way forward through the daily grind?
Ironically the book of Jeremiah is such a place. Jeremiah 32 records a bold action the "prophet of doom" does during Jerusalem's, and his, darkest hour that offers an example of hope. The Babylonian army besieged the city, and Jeremiah had been thrown in prison for predicting the fall of the city and captivity of the nation. Not much hope for anything positive going forward!
God tells Jeremiah to purchase his cousin's field in Anathoth. Now, even though prices would have been low in such a market, it would be a stretch to see how it would pay off if the nation was about to be taken over by hostile forces and the population deported. Conventional wisdom would have said to liquidate capital investments into currency more easily secured and moved. But no, God said to buy real estate. Why? "For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land'" (verse 15).
Jeremiah's action points to hope. When all we see is the world's knowledge apart from God, we can become discouraged. But with the knowledge of God there is always hope. With the promises of God there is reason to get up each morning and strike out on the day. There is reason to move forward and believe. Jeremiah offers us a reason to believe we all have places to go and a future to grasp.
You may be burdened with trouble. It may be hard for you to see how to get through the day and expect anything better tomorrow. The news of our world gives us little hope at times. Focus your eyes beyond today and on a future defined by God's promises. That is the best message we can hear for a future of hope. WNP