In the midst of uncertainty, when we do not know which path to take; during the seasons of our life when the seas are stormy, and Jesus appears to be sleeping in the boat; in times of darkness, when grief has a stronghold on our heart, there can be the temptation to doubt God’s goodness and love. Suffering, it seems, has the power to draw people more fully to God or to make individuals question His very existence.
When we find ourselves in these situations, to what do we turn?
In my life, I have often turned to Scripture to be reminded of the truth. In particular, I have returned to the words found in the book of Jeremiah:
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
While this verse has been popularized, it remains one of my favorites and anchors me whenever I begin to doubt God’s goodness or presence.
Rarely do the plans we devise turn out exactly as we’d envisioned. Yet, here is God promising us that He holds the plans for our life. We no longer need to spend energy worrying about every moment of the future. These plans God has for our life are meant to ensure we have a life full of prosperity and hope.
Does that mean that life will be easy?
That we will never face hardship or evil?
Or that in the face of suffering, God will immediately swoop in and rescue us?
No. Unfortunately, because of original sin and the brokenness of humanity, pain, and evil will always be part of our story on earth. Jesus, Himself, warned us of this: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). But it does mean that God’s plan for our lives goes beyond the circumstances we find ourselves in because He has conquered sin and death. Though we might not see or comprehend how God will use our cross for good, we know we can trust Him because He is a loving Father who always keeps His promises.
In fact, we can understand this truth more clearly when we look at the context surrounding Jeremiah 29:11. The Israelites had been taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Amid their hardship, they began listening to the voices of false prophets, who assured the Israelites they would have lives of prosperity and that their time in exile would not last long. Knowing the false prophets' voices were loud and persuasive, God encourages His people through Jeremiah to stay faithful to Him, for He has great plans for their life. Still, He goes on to say that they must remain in this condition of exile for another seventy years, meaning that not every Israelite would live to see the fulfillment of God’s promises in their life on earth.
Isn’t this relatable? Like the Israelites, we are sojourners journeying toward the promised land of the heavenly Jerusalem.
How tempting it can be to listen to the world's false prophets.
To listen to the voices that say if only we had _______, we would be happy.
Or the voices that say to only focus on what makes you happy, to walk away from anything or anyone who doesn’t immediately gratify you.
Yet, we know this is not the way of God. Of course, we hope to see the promises of God’s plan for us and our loved ones fulfilled in our time on earth. But even if we do not, we can rest in the hope of the resurrection and the truth that God always brings good out of evil and that He promises us a future of hope.
In Christ's hope,
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