“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.”(Jeremiah 29:11)
Pastoral counselor Andrew Lester has written on the importance of “future stories.” He says that all of us have ideas about what the future will hold and that these “future stories” have a significant impact on how we live in the present. Our imagined future gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. But what happens when something goes awry with our future stories and we discover that the future won’t be what we had imagined?
When something goes wrong and our future stories are dashed, Lester says we begin to despair and experience crisis. Overcoming crisis requires a re-visioning of the future, the construction of a new future story. Only when a new or reimagined future story is in place can we move forward with a sense of hope. I’ve returned to this insight over and over again since I first came across Lester’s writing about future stories in seminary: Every crisis entails the loss of a future story. To overcome crisis requires reimagining the future.
Whether it has been the sudden loss of a job, an unexpected illness, or an untimely death, many of us in recent months have had our future stories shattered. How can we support one another through these kinds of crises? Maybe the best gift we can offer one another is helping each other reimagine what life could be like in the reconfigured future, trusting in the promise of God spoken through the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”