Have you ever felt “banished”? Or “in captivity”? Or perhaps, “exiled”? The Israelites were far more than feeling this. They were experiencing it.
God’s chosen had been banished to Babylon as discipline for their sins of idolatry, lovelessness and injustice. They were in captivity and the Babylonians told them what they could do and not do. They were exiled and could not go home to the place they loved.
It would have been a major temptation to think, “God no longer loves us. He plans to punish us here forever, and we have no hope of ever escaping this. All we can expect is more pain, more trouble, more defeat, more loneliness.”
In times of trouble and hardship, it becomes really easy to believe that God only wants to bring us hurt and harm. We lose our optimism about the future. We feel like we’re just going to be held down and beaten up. We throw planning out the window. “Why plan?” we think to ourselves. Some disaster is just going to happen and demolish our plans anyway.
That’s why Jeremiah 29 is so important. In this chapter, Jeremiah sends a letter to the exiles in Babylon from Jerusalem. And he reassures them that God’s plans for them are loving plans, plans to help them prosper, plans to give them a wonderful future.
Hope is so necessary, and so powerful. And we all need a message of hope from time to time.
That’s why Jeremiah 29:11 is a great passage to take with you wherever you go in life. It’s a great passage for the dark times. We can use it to remind ourselves that — no matter what current events seem to be telling us — we have a God who gives us hope.
So, never forget. God plans three things for you. You have a God who plans 1) to prosper you, and 2) to give you hope, and 3) to give you a future.
And never lose sight of this, either. God loves to have you seek him out through his word. He promises that when you do that, you will find him — and find your hope again!
“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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. 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” (Jeremiah 29:11-14, NIV).
Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice for sins, and for your resurrection. This tells me you always intend to reconcile with me, and that there is always hope and a future. Help me to trust that you always want me to prosper in the end. And especially help me to trust this when I am undergoing tough times in life.
Our Bible reading for Tuesday, October 13, is Jeremiah 27:1 – 29:23, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 and Psalm 119:25-32.