“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Ever been in a hopeless situation? One that seemingly had no answers? No way out, no peace, no way to return to normal? Ever looked at your marriage that way? Your relationship with a loved one? Perhaps an aspect of life is blocked in. Even imprisoned. Maybe life has taken an unexpected turn. Maybe like my Lesson from Legoland, you just really want off the ride.
I get it. I’ve been there. Feels like I’ve been camped in the life of unexpected twists and turns for way longer than I expected. Quite frankly, I’m over it.
In my frustration and anger, I’ve said some things in prayer that I am pretty sure are against the rules. I won’t pretend that I’ve gone willingly into this battle and I can’t say I have always spoken respectfully to my General. But where else can I go? Who else would have the answers? What’s my option? Defect and join the opposition? No way. I know Who wins in the end.
I was reminded of this verse last night as I crawled into bed. This morning, it was resonating in my mind and knowing I am not alone in facing struggles that are painful, I thought maybe the context could bring us all a little hope.
Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah (the country, not the person) at a time when the nation was being dragged into exile in Babylon. The entire situation was facing judgement for their idolatry and nothing anyone could do would change what was happening. In fact, in the verses just ahead of today’s devotional, the Lord tells the people to get comfy. Build houses, plant gardens, let your kids grow up and get married and have grand babies. This captivity, this exile is going to last a long time.
God even tells them to pray for the welfare of the Babylonians…the ones who brought them into captivity! Pray for the best interest of your captors…those that have uprooted and ruined your lives. Make the best of it, because:
I know the plans I have for you…plans for a future and a hope, plans to prosper you and not to harm you...
Many times, our lives can feel as though they have been dragged into a captivity. A hopeless situation. I know women who’s husbands are battling pain killer addictions. Pornography addictions. Families facing financial crisis. Families feeling overwhelmed. Trapped. Imprisoned in what seems hopeless. But it is when we are facing the impossible, that the Lord was likewise telling his people through Jeremiah…”I have a plan. It’s for good. It’s not for your harm. Seek me even in these tough times…look for me with all your heart…you’ll find me at work even in the midst of your insurmountable difficulty. And in the end…I will restore…I’ll make it right.”(loosely paraphrased vs. 5-14)
To be honest, there are plenty of things in my own life right now that I just don’t see how God can use for good. That’s what I feel. But what I know to be true is not what my emotions are telling me. What I know to be truth is the Word of God who tells me that every hair on my head is numbered (Matthew 10:30), my life is far more valuable to him than that of a sparrow (Luke 12:7), and that even through my challenges, He has a plan that includes hope. What may feel like a series of calamities in a battle I entered (willingly or not) the day I said yes to Jesus is just the ugliness of a war that has already been won.