I’ve read this passage so many times.
I memorized it as a child.
It was given to me in cards and notes over and over again after Leisha died.
God has plans to prosper me- not harm me
God has plans to give me hope and a future.
But I today I read the verse in context of chapter 29.
This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
First thing I notice is to be in exile is the condition of someone being sent or kept away from their own country, village, home, etc. CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH DICTIONARY
The Lord tells them through Jeremiah to:
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.6 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. 7 Also, 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.
Hmmm? Sounds like God is saying make the most of the situation you are in – whether it is good or not, whether it is where you want to be or not.
Then in verse 10 the Lord says; ”
When seventy years are completed in Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
And that is where Jeremiah 29:11 comes in.
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.
Make the most of being kept away from everything that feels like home for 70 years?
That’s part of your plan, God, of hope and a future?
I pondered this verse today while I sat on my bench by my big tree in the front yard as I watched the storm clouds roll in with darkness and lightning flashing.
I would rather NOT have storms (though I am inclined to watch storm clouds for hours)
I would rather NOT live in a place emotionally that feels broken and confining; limited by my own limitations physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
Why can’t you just give me the hope and the future, God!
As the dark clouds I’m watching begin to release rain and the lightning comes too close for comfort, I consider that the storms in my life have been my greatest pains and my deepest joys clashing together to make me feel like an exile in my own life.
But in the storm, I am more aware than ever before that God is bigger and different than I ever knew him to be.
Jeremiah 29:12 says
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] 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.”
For me- and you- the exiles, God has a plan for good, with hope, for a future.
He invites us to
He will listen
We will seek and find him when we seek him with all our heart.
The Lord Almight, God of Israel says
I will be found by you
I will bring you back from captivity.
I will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.
I’m not really sure where that place is, I’ve been so long in this place of exile.
HOME! I like the sound of that. Will that be heaven? Is it possible now?
I’m going to have to ponder this passage some more. I’m sure I still haven’t put it all in context.
But in the mean time, I’m going to make the most of this place I live,
Take care of my home
Enjoy it’s rooms
plant my gardens and eat what they produce (hmm? it’s been a long time since I’ve done that, but I think it’s time again)
Cherish my marriage and our daughters and their special husbands. The increasing part is up to them, but I’m not in a hurry!
Seek peace and prosperity in this place.
Pray to the Lord for this place- because if it prospers- I will too.
Hmm? It’s been a long time in this place- not been 70 years (NO, I’m not 70 yet!)
but I see HOPE
and a future right here! right now!
Lord Almighty, the God of Israel,
I call on you
I come to you
I pray to you
I find you
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for being able to found by me.
Thank you for hope and a future.