Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Yesterday, we closed the gate on 2020. It was a wet and rainy night here. We didn’t ring in the New Year with fireworks and blasts of excitement. We rang it in quietly tucked in our cozy, warm beds. No fireworks, no raising of an apple on Time Square, no, I just snuggled up in my big old king sized bed next to the man I love and thanked God for the past year, and I asked Him to be with me in the coming year. We spend this time of each year in great reflection. We remember the successes of the past year, and at the same time, we remember the trials and failures. We smile with pleasure as we remember the good times that we shared, and a frown sneaks across our brow as we remember the low times. As we walk into this new day and new year, we must forgive and forget, and move forward seeking the path that our Lord and Savior has planned for us. Oh what a plan He has for us!
I saw a thing on Facebook last night in which a friend asked that everyone share their favorite scripture. The scripture would then be written in a 52 week planner, and each week of the coming year, you would focus on that scripture for the week and also pray for the person who shared the scripture. I thought that this was an absolutely wonderful idea, and I shared it to my status on Facebook. I thought long and hard trying to figure out my favorite scripture. I have so many favorites, and I couldn’t choose just one. One of my very favorites is Philippians 4:6-7, but Jeremiah 29:11 is right up there on the top also.
If we read Jeremiah 29:11 in context we soon realize that it doesn’t mean what we thought it did. We cling to this verse with thoughts that God’s plan is to prosper me. However, there is a lot more to it than that. The Israelites were in exile, a punishment from God as a result of their disobedience. The prophet Jeremiah confronted the false prophet, Hananiah, who had boldly proclaimed that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in two years. (He did not, by the way.) Jeremiah called out Hananiah’s lie and then stated the promise we read in 29:11. God did indeed have a good plan for the Israelites, and it was a plan that would give them hope and a prospering future. But before He gave the promise, He shared instructions from God. In verse 7, he proclaimed, “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Wait, what? Surely that wasn’t what they wanted to hear! The Israelites wanted to go home. They didn’t want to stay in bondage any longer. They wanted God’s plan to be their plan…to get the heck out of Dodge. But that isn’t how God works. God wanted the people to stay right where they were and help the people that enslaved them prosper, and by helping their captors prosper, God promised that they too would prosper. But wait, there is more! In verse 10, Jeremiah delivered a little more distressing news from God. “This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.” The Israelites had to remain in captivity for seventy years. That had to hurt, but thankfully, the words of verse 11 came next. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Verse 11 is where it is at! God’s promise is to give us a future and a hope just as He promised the Israelites while they were in bondage. What does this mean for us? We are going to go through some very difficult days, and some of those days will be much more trying than others. We must remember God can turn those difficult situations into key moments that make His plans for us prosper. God is NOT out to bring harm on us. He loves us so much, but sometimes in our darkest hour, we feel that He isn’t there. We feel that He has left us. We ask Him why He isn’t there, or where did He go. He didn’t leave. He never leaves, but sometimes we endure dark moments so that we can experience the most important lessons to help us grow closer to God. It is always in my darkest days that I learn to depend totally on the Father!
God has a way of using the scariest and darkest times of our lives to show us His saving power and grace. Everybody has their favorite superhero. Don’t you just love Superman, Batman, Ironman, or Spiderman? They always swoop in at exactly the right moment, just in the nick of time, to save the world from certain doom! Well, my friends, we have a real life superhero that puts all of these fictional heroes to shame! God sent His Son to save the world. That same God that sent His Son to forever change the world is the same God that is here with you and me today. And that same God has plans for you, and those plans include a future filled with HOPE! Today, rest in the arms of the true Superhero: Jesus Christ. Place your hope in Him. I leave you with these words from Paul in Ephesians 1:18. “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”