If you found David’s article “Dare to Hope” as challenging as I did you might like to process this with me. I’m working through his interpretation of what Jeremiah was trying to get across to the people in exile: “Don’t just become a hater of the situation. Learn to live for what good God can make out of it.” That’s a tough one.

Any number of people I’m close to are in the throes of various situations that anyone would hate. Not only that, the nature of life on this earth is that even when “life is good,” a trial of major proportions is coming and we don’t know if it is coming sooner or later… only that it’s coming. So I’m trying to break down David’s quote above, for myself and maybe for you. When “the big one” comes, don’t just become a hater of the situation. It’s natural and it’s not wrong to hate a situation that blankets us in overwhelming pain and loss. We’re not told to greet the situation with glee. But we can’t afford to limit ourselves to being only haters of the situation. Why should hatred for the situation have free reign in our lives, or be allowed to grow so big that it crowds everything else out of our hearts? No, we don’t want to be defined by our hatred of the situation. Do we?

I like the second part of the admonition as well: learn to live for what good God can make out of it. I try not to tell friends in hard circumstances, “God has a plan, you’ll see He will bring something good of it.” I do believe that is true with all my heart. But I’ve discovered from being on the other end of those meant-to-be-comforting words that they can conjure up an image of sitting passively while tons of cement are poured on you “for your own good.” The cement dries and there you are, buried, suffocating, immobilized—and feeling guilty for not being grateful about it.

But learning to live for whatever good God can make of a situation strikes me much differently. It’s a challenge to not be passive. Move your brain around, move your body, think, look, go, find what God can do. Is this something we can try in the initial stages of shock and loss? Probably not. Maybe at first all we can do is be “a hater of the situation.” There’s a wise old saying: you may not be able to keep a bird from landing on your head, but you don’t need to let it build a nest there. Philippians 4:8 gives the converse, telling us all the kinds of thoughts on which we should meditate, or let our minds dwell on.