You don’t even have to be a Christian to know the famous verse from Jeremiah 29:11…
“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.”
If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably clung to that verse at some point. I know I have. I love it because it’s a direct “in your face” to the enemy when he tries to feed us the lies that God isn’t good or doesn’t care.
God is good.
God does care.
No matter what you’re walking through.
No matter what you’re feeling.
No matter if you can’t see an end to the darkness.
All that said, what most of us forget are the verses before and after this famous one. The context of verse 11 is that God has used prophet after prophet to redirect, correct, and warn His children that they’re abandoning His ways and His protection. When they refuse to turn back to Him, He sends His own children into captivity in Babylon for 70 years. This word in Jeremiah 29 is given to His children as they’re starting their captivity.
What would you think about God if a foreign enemy just attacked and uprooted you to live in their country under their rule? My guess is that some people would run to God, while others would decide God must not care. The children of God had to be in a state of shock.
Why am I telling you this? I don’t think any of us are going to be whisked away by a foreign enemy, but there are always times when we end up in places we don’t like with fear in our hearts. In our current series at One City, Redefining Greatness, Chris has talked about how we move from pain to promise. What I love about understanding the context of this passage is seeing God’s kindness even when hard things are happening.
He tells them how long it will be (no guessing – verse 10).
He tells them not to put life on hold (build houses and marry – verses 5-6).
He tells them how to find peace (“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” – verse 7).
Some of the people taken into captivity were faithless. Some of the people taken into captivity were actually faithful. Either way, God was comforting them, telling them how to navigate their current reality and letting them know that, even in their darkest hours, He would be their light.
I leave you with these two timeless truths today:
- If your current reality is not as you desire, God still has a way for you to thrive in your present circumstances. Ask Him what steps you need to take.
- If God cares so deeply that He gives us a path of light when we’re being disciplined, know that His compassion overflows when we feel like we’re being held captive by choices outside of our own.