Christ is our Hope, in the midst of 2020 and otherwise; through joys and sorrows—through it all.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite Scripture verse.
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
God’s plans are good.
Does that mean it will be easy to live hopefully? No. God says His plans are good—not that they will be easy to live out.
Models of Hope
The Saints attest to this truth. Their lives were marked by difficulties and all manner of trial and tribulation. But they continued along hopefully, doing God’s work where He placed them, because they knew Who Hope was. For this reason, they are excellent models of hope for us.
For example, Saint Thérèse, one of my favorite Saints, understood well what hope really means.
In her autobiography, Story of a Soul, she writes:
Ever since I understood it was impossible to do anything by myself, the task no longer appeared difficult. I felt it was only necessary to unite myself more and more with Jesus, and the rest would be given to me as a bonus. In effect, my hope was never mistaken.
Her life was not easy, of course—her mom died when she was 4 years old; her family experienced various difficulties; she had to wait to enter the convent; and she died young. But she lived well her “Little Way” because she trusted that God knows what he is doing.
The Present Moment
Hope, above all, depends on staying close to God and trusting that Jesus is with us. May we stay close to Him in prayer and through the Sacraments, come what may. The Saints lead the way.
Another quote that helps me stay rooted in hope is from Saint Gianna:
Live holy the present moment.
Living a holy life means we are living hopefully because we are living the way God wants us to; and that is how we can best see how He is working in our lives and showing us His good plans for us via Jeremiah 29:11.
Our Lady of Hope
Mother Mary is the epitome of hope. One of her titles is Our Lady of Hope. She trusted God no matter what, and she wants us to do so, too. Praying Memorares helps me stay rooted in hope.
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Hopeful Love Stories
My favorite author also bolsters me in hope.
Jane Austen’s timeless tales highlight that virtue and good choices lead to hopeful matches, as in truly happy marriages.
Her novels reflect true love, which is part of God’s plan; He wants us to live well His plan for love and marriage. The characters trust that there is a good plan for their lives. The heroines and heroes have “a future with hope” because they choose wisely in marriage (as compared to other characters whose choices lead to heartache and less than happily ever after).
Pride and Prejudice shows how becoming a better person and encouraging your match to be the best version of himself, too, is the crux of real love, prompting love-filled actions (remember how Mr. Darcy saves the day?). Elizabeth Bennet is rewarded for seeing Darcy’s true character—and her own need for self-growth.
Sense and Sensibility reminds us that life and love both require sense and sensibility (emotional sensitivity)—and, of course, it is imperative to steer clear of the Willoughbys and seek out the Col. Brandons. (Obviously!)
Persuasion illustrates that “Love never fails” (see 1 Corinthians 13). Are you familiar with this romantic novel? It’s all about waiting for true love. When Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth are reunited after years apart, they know they are meant to be because they understand that real love is anchored in mutual goodness and esteem. “I have loved none but you,” he writes her. “It was overpowering happiness” for Anne. So beautiful!
Emma highlights how Mr. Knightley is a true gentleman and real love prompts growth in virtue. My favorite Austen hero is Mr. Knightley because he is a true gentleman (he truly lives up to his name). His care for Emma Woodhouse illustrates the agape version of love, for his love for her compels him to help her become a better person. Lovely lesson!
Mansfield Park shows that goodness is the best way to love. After all, Fanny Price’s goodness attracts Edmund Bertram in the end.
Northanger Abbey illustrates the importance of not being so obsessed with anything that you almost miss out on love. Catherine Morland is a cautiounary tale (and it’s a good thing Henry Tilney was such a good guy).
God is the Center
Church weddings, of course, are a must for Miss Austen’s characters, because God is part of any good (and hopeful) love story.
There is much more to be said, of course. But, in a nutshell, Austen’s novels reflect hope because of the truth imparted in their themes. (Sidenote: Take a course on Jane Austen, if you can; I did in college; we read all the novels—best. class. ever.)
Also as an aside, have you read some of Jane Austen’s prayers? They are simply lovely. One excerpt: “Give us a thankful sense of the Blessings in which we live.” True blessings, of course, include true love.
Overall, the heart of Austen stories is hope, as the characters work out the answers to: How can I best fulfill who God wants me to be? Who is best suited for me? These are questions we must ask ourselves, too, as Jeremiah 29:11 unfolds in our lives.
Here’s to hopeful living and happy reading!
What Jeremiah 29:11 and Jane Austen Taught Me About Hope #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Read more about Jeremiah 29:11 and Jane Austen in The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2020), the new book by Amy Smith, who is associate editor of the National Catholic Register, a service of EWTN, where she edits features and likes to write about everything from hope and Saints (her favorites are Thérèse and Gianna) to Jane Austen. Find out more about her here.
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