Maybe you are familiar with the amazing promise of Jeremiah 29:11:
“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.”
Like me, maybe you’ve prayed this promise over your child’s bedside at night. When my daughter Elise was born, I was given this verse in a beautiful frame that now hangs on her bedroom wall.
It’s one of the most loved promises in scripture, but do you know when that promise was given? It was given to a people in great pain and in a time of incredible despair.
The prophet Jeremiah sent the divine promise in 597 BC in a letter written to the thousands of Jewish people who were exiled in Babylon. They had lost everything: their dreams, their freedom … and their hope.
Has a diagnosis or difficult situation rocked your world? Then you, too, can understand how it feels to have your world brutally shaken by a turn of events.
If so, then the beauty of Jeremiah 29 will astound you as it does me. God’s words to His people in pain are surprising, because instead of speaking to their sorrow, He tells them to prosper in their place of exile.
Yes, to prosper in captivity and despite incredible hardship.
From The Message, Jeremiah 29:4-7 reads:
This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God,
to all the exiles I’ve taken from Jerusalem to Babylon:
“Build houses and make yourselves at home.
Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country. Marry and have children.
Encourage your children to marry and have children
so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away.”
Amazing, right? To thrive within hardship. Yet, think about it: This wasn’t the only Bible account of prosperity in hardship:
- Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, yet despite imprisonment and hard times, God elevated him to royal status.
- During years of brutal Egyptian slavery, the Hebrew nation flourished and multiplied. When Moses led them out of slavery, they were a multitude.
- Esther was an orphan girl ripped from her home to become just another girl in a king’s harem. From that place, God paved the way for Esther to become the brave queen who would lift her voice to save her people.
Which brings us back to the promise we know and love in Jeremiah 29: 11, and why we can be blessed by it:
Despite our circumstances and hardships, and even if everything around us is shaken and taken from us … even then … we can count on God’s plan to prosper us. We can find hope in His promise that He has a future for us that is as sure and sound as the sky above.
Are you are in a place of despair? Are you worn and tired and losing hope? Do you feel miles away from the dream you once held for your life?
Then sit down for a moment and savor more of the promises found in Jeremiah 29. The Message translates God’s words to you so beautifully:
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you, not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for.
“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me
and want it more than anything else,
I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you.
I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—
“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile.
You can count on it.”
As I read those words, I can literally feel God’s arms around me. Don’t you feel Him too?
Then take heart! You can prosper even in great hardship, because your Great and Mighty God is with you. Believe it!
– Kelly Langston
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