These are tough times for many. The housing market collapse left some in homes that were no longer worth their mortgage. Company’s choosing to downsize in order to stay profitable left some without jobs and many others with less hours. And most of us make dumb choices from time to time that lead us down a path we’d rather not travel.
Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse that’s often quoted when times are hard.
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.
The prophet wrote those words from God to the Israelite exiles that King Nebuchadnezzar had carried off to Babylon. I’m sure they were hoping for a refreshing word from God, something like, “Don’t worry and don’t unpack! I will rescue you before the sun sets on another day.”
But that’s not what God told Jeremiah to write to them. Instead, God said, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease” (Jeremiah 29:5-6).
If that’s not bad enough, God continues with these words: “seek the peace and 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.”
This might be the passage from which someone penned the popular quote, “Bloom where you are planted” because that’s exactly what God wanted them to do. Continue to love life, continue to love each other, and continue to seek prosperity for your family. Even in Babylon.
It was only after all this that God told them when He would rescue them: in seventy years. For seventy years they would live as exiles among their enemy. For seventy years they needed to build houses and plant gardens. For seventy years they needed to marry and have babies so their population would increase. Seventy long years.
Because, even in this hard place when an enemy king had hauled them off to a foreign land, God loved them and wanted to bless them. And He reminds them of this after giving them the timeline. For I know the plans I have for you.
God has plans for you too, plans to prosper you. The verse never promises that He will only prosper you every day of your Christian life. Instead He promises that His plans — no matter what they look like today — will not harm you.
Now, of course, you must do your best to follow His plan. But if you do, doesn’t that bring great hope into your heart? It’s a great way to find freedom from worry!
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