“‘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)
Do you like uncertainty? If you’re like most people, your answer is probably “NO!” For some it might even be more forcefully stated. One of the pet dictums of many military commanders is, “I don’t like surprises.” Governments, corporations, churches, organizations, and even families and individuals regularly develop plans and contingency operations in order to provide purpose, structure, and certainty to their existence. One of the major contributors to any President’s approval ratings or any Chief Executive Officer’s job performance ratings is the perception of the people they’re leading that there is no plan. The uncertainty such a perception creates, whether the concern is real or imagined, often determines whether or not the President or corporate CEO retains his job and his paycheck.
Uncertainty as to the future certainly was of concern for the Children of Israel. They were in captivity in Babylon and yearned to return to Jerusalem and the Land of Promise God had given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God spoke to their uncertainty and fear, encouraging them to continue to live their lives as they would have if they had still been in their homeland. While they were worried and fretting about the future, which looked quite bleak to a captive people, God let them know that He was aware of their plight, that He was with them, their troubles were for a definite period of time (seventy years), and that He had plans for them, by which, although they were in captivity, they would prosper and would not come to harm. In those promises God assured them that they had hope and a future. They would not be destroyed. They would continue to be His people.
How often don’t we find ourselves suffering from the same kind of mindset? Things just don’t seem to be going well. Our world seems to be coming apart at the seams. We thought our lives were going to be going in one direction; instead they seem to be headed in the opposite direction. Our faith and trust in God is challenged at every turn as we seek to live in a relationship with Him. Our faith and trust in Him also put us at odds with the world, which regularly fills our hearts with fear, insecurity, anger, and frustration and scores of other feelings and emotions that challenge our desire to live as the redeemed children of God.
Yet, just as God reassured the Children of Israel, so does He also reassure us. His words to His people in Jeremiah’s day are the same words He shares with us today, “…I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future. “(Jer. 29:11). While Israel was still waiting for the fulfillment of that promise, we have the privilege of having seen it happen. God’s plans for us were to save us from our sins; to redeem His creation from the power of Sin, Death, and Satan. In the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus God has revealed His plans for us – to prosper us as we recognize and receive His blessings of forgiveness and love; to keep us safe as He protects us from all things that would serve to keep us from His love; to give us hope in the promise of everlasting life with Him in heaven. In Christ Jesus He brings all this to pass. It is our future; it is assured in Christ Jesus. Our Father in heaven has plans for us.
Prayer: Father, thank You for reminding me, as You reminded Israel, that You have plans for me – no matter what happens in my life, You are always there for me and will save me from any harm that would take me away from You. Forgive me for failing to look at the Cross as the stark reminder that Your plans for me are so great that it required the life of Your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, in order for them to become a reality. Help me to live with joy and peace, hope and confidence in the future given to me through faith in Jesus, so that I might be a living and powerful witness to Your love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness in Him. Hear my prayer, gracious Father, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Copyright © 2006 The Rev. Richard J. Boeck, Jr. All rights reserved