For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)
It’s very easy when thinking about God’s plan for our lives to have the attitude: “it’s all about me.” Yes, it’s true that God cares about every intricate detail in our lives. In fact, Jesus said that even the hairs on our heads are numbered. We can also mistakenly think that God’s plan is always going to be a “feel good” plan with the intent to make us happy. Jeremiah’s message in these verses is actually radically different. He’s writing to a group of people who are being held captive, and are in exile from their homeland. He’s writing to let them know that although they’re not where they would have expected, nor where they would have asked God to place them, God has not forgotten them and He still has a plan for their lives. Even in the midst of a difficult situation, God wants them to know His plans.
We often read Jeremiah 29 like it is good news, plain and simple. But to the first people who heard those words, they were a tremendous disappointment. God’s people had suffered terribly. They had lost their land, their throne, their temple. Before Jerusalem fell in battle, the people had given in to cannibalism. They were then force-marched 800 miles and paraded (literally) through a pagan city in which they were now considered as the living symbols of the power of that city’s god.
It was into this kind of despair that Jeremiah offered God’s promise: “I know the plans I have for you … plans for your welfare and not for your harm, to give you a future and a hope.” They were not easy words to hear. Jeremiah promised that God had a plan that was certain and inevitable. But it would not unfold on Israel’s timetable. It would not simply undo Israel’s hardship. Yet the promise stood: God would fully restore His people and bring them out of their desperate situation, but He would not do it in the way any of them would have planned it.
Just like God spoke hope to the prophet Jeremiah thousands of years ago, His Word speaks hope to us today, and every day, reminding us of the beauty available to all in Christ. A beauty that ultimately brings Him glory.
In Christ, you are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
In Christ, you are forgiven and made righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
In Christ, you are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
In Christ, there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1)
In Christ, you are justified and have peace with God. (Romans 5:1)
In Christ, you are his workmanship - created to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10)
In Christ, you are chosen and made holy to proclaim his excellency. (1 Peter 2:9)
In Christ, you are a child of God. (John 1:12)
In Christ, you are a fruit bearer. (John 15:5)
In Christ, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 1:22)
In Christ, you are to be his witness to the world. (Acts 1:8)
In Christ, you are given a spirit of power, of love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
In Christ, you are equipped to live out his Word. (James 1:22)
In Christ, you can choose peace over anxiety. (Philippians 4:6)
In Christ, you can boldly approach God in prayer knowing He hears. (1 John 5:14-15)
In Christ, you can be content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether in plenty or in want – and do all things. (Philippians 4:12-14)
In Christ, you are an overcomer. (1 John 4:4)
At some point someone needs to say to us, “Who ever told you life was going to be fair?” God didn’t. In James 1:2, he didn’t say, “If you have many kinds of troubles,” he said, “When you have many kinds of troubles.” Troubles are part of the package.
Jesus said, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. My kingdom is from another place (John 18:36).”
When all of earth turns against you, all of heaven turns toward you. To keep your balance in this crooked world, think of home!