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. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
We often hear this verse given by people to their friends who are usually downtrodden and giving up. It is certainly such a beautiful promise from God. But what is the context of this famous verse? How does it apply to our life?
This promise and assurance was given by the Lord to the Israelite exiles in Babylon through Jeremiah. See, the people chosen and freed by God from Egypt ended up being captives and exiles in a far land called Babylon. What thrives mostly in this kind of setting?
In the preceding verses, God spoke to His people (through Jeremiah) saying to them to build their houses and settle down. He even instructed them to plant gardens and eatits produce! If you were an Israelite at that time, you would have wondered why God is directing you to do such things. Will He not come for you? Has He totally forgotten about His heritage?
The Lord even added a more intriguing instruction. God told them to marry and have sons and daughters! He specifically told them to ensure that their numbers increase and not decrease. If you were one of the exiles, what would you have thought about it? Is God asking you to even pass on to your children the hard situation you are in?
To make things even more unbelievable, God told them to seek the abundance of the land they are in. He reminded thrm that if God prospered Babylon, the Israelites, too will prosper.
Yet during this season of doubt, God rebuked His people. He reminded them of who the real Lord is when He told them not to consult and believe the diviners among them who deceives the people of Israel. Then the Lord began His promise to them:
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. 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. 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 29:10-14 NIV)
What important points can we glean from this field of assurances from God?
- The Lord is good. He is good despite the situation you are in. His goodness does not depend on how we see our circumstances but His goodness relies on His innate attribute as God. If we only knew God’s heart, we will see that He is full of goodness and compassion for us. Like what He instructed the exiles, when we can’t see God’s hand, we have to trust His heart.
- The Lord is a promise-keeper. When the Lord gives a promise, He is faithful to fulfill its terms! Faithfulness is also innate in God’s nature so we can fully trust and depend on His assurances. So many instances in the Bible, we can see God to be the initiator of most covenants with His people. Why is this so? Because God is faithful, He wants to assure us of His good plans and be able to definitely make it happen!
- The Lord is omniscient. He knows everything about us from beginning to the end of our short life. Since He is all-knowing, He knew of our past, sees our present and expects our destiny in the future. Such is the God we have that we can fully trust Him when He says that He knows the plans He has for us. His plans are good and will sow for us hope and future.
So how can you trust God? Trust God by knowing His attributes! Then and only then will we be able to say that, “I have an Architect of Life who knows what He is doing. As such, I can trust Him with my everything, knowing that He desires only my good future. My hope is anchored upon the One who orchestrated it all.”