Many people, myself included, turn to Jeremiah 29:11 during times of suffering. It is a beautiful piece of God’s Word, filled with an amazing promise for our lives. But are we clinging to this verse, hoping that God will wave some sort of magic wand and instantly take away all or our pain and suffering? I personally haven’t read anywhere in the Bible where God plays the part of magician, friend.
To really understand the beauty of the message, we need to look back a few verses to see what was happening in sixth century B.C.
If we start back at Jeremiah 29 :4 -7 God is telling His people, whom He had exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon, make this place your home. Then in verse 7 He says, “ Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
God is saying, trust me here folks, I know what I am doing? Stay put, make the best of it in this land by working hard, raising your families, worshiping me, and see what I can do.
Can you feel the frustration of God’s chosen people? They want to go back to their “home” so desperately, but their Lord is saying, do not turn back to your comfort zone. Believe in Me. Have you ever been in this kind of situation? Maybe not exiled to a foreign country, but a season in your life when you were trying something new, something out of your out of your comfort zone? Or it could have been a big move across country to a new city like mine was ten years ago when God brought me kicking and screaming out of Texas to Kentucky!
Oh I was just like the Jews in Babylon, complaining how terrible the conditions were “out in the country” called Crestwood, KY. (It is actually very beautiful). The house we rented didn’t have a disposal! What is a city girl to do! Not to mention this house we rented was on something called a septic system? What? I had to buy special toilet paper! Are you kidding me! The worst part, the closest mall was, at least, 20 miles or more away! “God get me out of the forsaken place!” (I actually said that out loud one day as I left a faculty meeting at the school where I was teaching. Not good.). I wanted to run as fast as my short legs could take me back to Texas, my home for the past 20 years, my safe, familiar, home. Not the plan, and I needed to find the real hope Jeremiah 29:11 was offering me.
Let’s get back to our story in Jeremiah 29, we left off at verse 8.
I love verses 8 and 9. God tells His people, these guys are coming around spreading lies about me. They will call themselves “diviners” and “prophets”. What they will actually doing is tricking you into believing your hopes and desires are what God is calling you to do. However, the Lord says in verse 9, “I have not sent them.” Basically, do not believe them, I am your God, trust me.
Even today in our lives, we have to watch out for these so-called “diviners”, telling us what we want to hear is God’s plan for us when in reality it just might be our own desires. (More to come in January on knowing when we hear God’s calling).
Verse 10, “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.” Did he just say 70 years? Yes He most certainly did. Even in Sixth Century B.C, my friend, it was God’s timing not the timing of the people.
God wasn’t and isn’t going to just say, okay my chosen people, you don’t like Babylon so I will move you back to Jerusalem. (okay Jane Ann you don’t like Kentucky so I am moving you and your family back to Texas.) No, that is not what our loving God does. This is what he does, read on.
Now Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Read that verse again, this time though, put your name in place of the word “you”.
For I know the plans I have for ________,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper _____and not to harm ______, plans to give _______ hope and a future.
As believers in Christ Jesus, whose plans are these friend, ours or our Saviors? Now here is the hope to cling to:
Listen in verses 12-14. as our Heavenly Father directs His people and us today. I love these verses and if I could read them aloud to you it with be with the biggest smile on my face. I imagine God with a big smile on His face and loving arms opened as he speaks:
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29: 12-14 NIV)
God was going to take his chosen people back to Jerusalem, but not until they learned to persevere through the tough seasons of change, a season out of their comfort zone that would last 70 years.
God wants the same for us today. We can have the hope that God is always with us no matter what season we are going through here on Earth. When we call to Him he hears us. It is our job to persevere, have faith in His plan and timing. He will deliver us out of the season when He sees fit. We are not going to live out this life perfectly, because if we did we wouldn’t need a Savior, now would we?
By persevering we will find we have more Joy than we could have ever imagined. We will have learned more about ourselves and grown exponentially. We will be prepared to help others when it is their season.
One more thing, friend, God will deliver us from this world one day too, that is part of His plan too. For it is written in the Gospel of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Believe with me today, friend. If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, say yes to Jesus today.
This is the hope of Jeremiah 29:11.