I know the plans I have for you
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you & not to harm you, plans to give you hope & a future.’”
Here’s an article I found on this famous verse — “We often approach this verse as a security blanket: God has a plan for me that is good, so clearly this suffering I’m going through will end soon & then my flourishing will begin! But that is not what God was promising to the Israelites, and it’s not what he’s promising us, either.
The heart of the verse is “not that we would escape our lot,
but that we would learn to thrive” in the midst of it.
Here’s the context: the Israelites were in exile, a punishment from God as result of their disobedience. The prophet Jeremiah confronts false prophet Hananiah, who had boldly proclaimed that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in 2 years.
Jeremiah calls out Hananiah’s lie, and then states the promise we read in 29:11. God does indeed have a good plan for the Israelites, and it is a plan that will give them hope and a prospering future. Sounds good, right?
The thing is, before he shares this promise, he gives them this directive from God: “seek the peace and the 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.” (29:7)
This is not at all what the Israelites wanted to hear! They wanted to be told that they were going to go home. They wanted to be told that their suffering was going to end. Instead, God’s plan was for them to stay right where they were, and to help prosper the nation that enslaved them!
And then came the biggest blow of all. In verse 10, God says that he would fulfil this “after seventy years are completed in Babylon.” This meant that virtually none in the current generation of Israelites would ever return to Israel.
Yes, of course God knows the plans He has for us. And ultimately He will give us a glorious future. But as we walk out our lives on this crazy earth, let’s remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely. And when we learn perseverance, we find surprising joy.
So cling to Jeremiah 29:11 in the true, gospel confidence that he will give you hope in the midst of any suffering.”
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