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.
I have seen this verse printed on many a graduation gift, from mugs to plaques. I have seen it on the fronts of encouragement cards. I have heard it spoken by and for many, including myself. But, in the end, what does it really mean?
The prophet Jeremiah spoke these words to a ravaged people. Amidst the rise of the Babylonian Empire, Judah faced exile and the destruction of the capital city, Jerusalem, and the Temple. Their lives were shattered and Jeremiah was a lonely, battered prophet.
And yet, he writes these words. How could he? And what’s the key to them, and us, living like they’re really true?
1) The future and the hope depend on God: Jeremiah could write these things because He knew, and wanted the people to know, who the Author of their future and their hope is. Everything is dependent on the goodness and provision of God for them as His people.
2) The future and the hope are a part of a larger story: If they were to simply look at their current circumstances, the people of Judah, Jeremiah’s readers, would have utterly abandoned hope. So their eyes needed to be fixed on God. He was, and is, writing a grand story. Time and time again, He rescued them from their oppressors, and always He was pointing towards the Great Rescue.
3) The future and the hope can NEVER be taken away: Jeremiah is calling people to see the everlasting nature of the promise. Their God is the Creator and Sustainer of life; of redemption. He will call His faithful people Home one day. Each one who longs for God can say with the ancient, Job,
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
I believe Jeremiah 29:11 is a beautiful verse, but it can also be misleading. We can develop a very flimsy understanding of the promise of God for our lives. We can believe our futures will be molded just as we hoped, because isn’t that what this verse says?
And this is where we need our roots. We need the roots of the story of God both in His Word and our lives. We need to remember what He has done. We need to remember the pain, the hard and the failure, too. We need to see how He has redeemed and is redeeming it all.
Here is our future and our hope. We stand in Him, and boldly live, in every way, the story He is writing with our lives.
I am wife to a wonderful man, mama to three precious now-little-but-soon-will-not-be loves. Each born in a different place--two states including 2 states and 2 countries. I am a farm girl who found her heart in the city. I can now claim fluency in 3 languages :: English, Spanish & Hungarian.This combined with the all-too-true 'mommy brain' explains much regarding my mental state most days;) I am a sojourner longing for Home. Yet, in my messy and broken, I embrace the moments given with all I have. I am seeking, praying, and learning again and again that it is for His Glory I live. My prayer is that my little life would make much of Him! I write regularly at Abigail Alleman.
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