I read post after post on Facebook of people struggling, suffering, enduring unspeakable pain. I watch the news and am sickened by what evil exists in this world. I talk to friends going through health struggles, financial woes and family drama. It’s enough to make a body want to crawl into bed and say, “Wake me up when Jesus comes.” Some days, I just feel very far from home.
I think of Jeremiah 29:11. It’s such a popular verse. If polled, I believe three out of four Christ-followers would claim it as their “life verse.” People quote it to every friend going through a trial. Folks have it taped to their mirrors and cross-stitched on pillows. I get it; it’s a catchy verse.
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
What I love about this verse, however, has less to do with its catchiness or its Christian cliche status. What makes this verse penetrate deep into my heart is two important factors:
the people hearing these words
the God saying the words.
Thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile… – Jeremiah 29:4
Jeremiah 29:11 – the verse that you and I quote by heart and have on coffee mugs was originally spoken to people taken captive. They were exiled to a distant land, surrounded by unfamiliar territory and unfriendly faces. They were scared and scarred. They were worn and weary. Then, in the midst of their suffering, God whispers hope.
The people must have looked around and wondered what was going to happen to them. This was not the life they had planned when they were voted “most likely to succeed.” How forgotten they must have felt and how sick over the fact that their own sin had put them in such a predicament. How humbled by the fact that God still had plans for them at all.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…
Not would have had if they had only been better.
Not could have had if only they had proven themselves worthy.
I know the plans I have for you.
How many of us need to know that God still has plans for us?
Not just any plan. Not just a “you should be thankful I remembered you at all” kind of plan. But a good plan. It was a plan full of welfare, future and hope. God knew that what they needed most was not relief from the current struggle, but hope for a future and the knowledge that God still had a plan for them.
And God still has a plan for you.