In high school I was given a birthday card that had Jeremiah 29:11 written in it. For those of you who don’t know the verse, it says: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” I really liked what the verse said, and decided it was going to be my “life verse”.
In the many years that have passed since I received that birthday card, I have found myself going back to Jeremiah 29:11 over and over. Usually, it’s when life is difficult, and I need the reassurance of the promises that God gives us in that verse. That’s what was happening this morning as I drove to work, and was talking to God about a few challenging situations we’re navigating through right now - and I needed reminding that His plans are for good.
God was faithful to do that - but He also reminded me that it’s easy to think that His “plans for our lives” are all about us, when in reality, they’re all about Him. Now, don’t misunderstand me, because yes, God does care about us. And he does care about the intricate details of our lives. Jesus makes that clear when He says that even the hairs on our heads are numbered (Matthew 10:30). But that doesn’t mean that God is going to set aside His plans for this world to make sure that we’re comfortable and happy.
Actually, if we study the message Jeremiah’s giving the Israelites from God in chapter 29, we’ll see that it’s radically different than what most of us think when we think of “good plans” for our lives. Here’s what I mean: Jeremiah is writing to a group of people who are being held captive, and are in exile from their homeland. And he’s writing to let them know that, although they’re not where they would have expected, or where they would have wanted God to put them, God has not forgotten them and He still has a plan for their lives. In other words, even in the midst of a difficult situation, God wants them to know that His plans are still being carried out. But His plans were not just to benefit them personally, they were to benefit the entire nation - and eventually us.
However, even though God was assuring them that He saw their situation, and hadn’t forgotten them, and had a good plan for them - He’s also did not plan to remove them from their situation immediately. He promised that He would eventually restore them, but not for many years. God wanted His people to trust Him, seeing the eternal picture, and believing that His justice would eventually win out.
And what was true for the Israelites is true for us as well. In the midst of difficult situations, God wants us to know He has a plan - but it’s an eternal one. So with that in mind, today, let’s submit to God’s plans for us - plans that He wants to use to bless the world around us. And as we do so, let’s hold on to the comfort of the promise God gives us to follow up Jeremiah 29:11: if we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him.