“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
We all sometimes struggle believing in God’s love for us. We might think God is mad at us, or disappointed at our failures and shortcomings. Or he just doesn’t care for us at all, has forgotten us or treats us as his stepchildren: others seem to be preferred over us and living the dream, while we are facing all that life throws at us alone.
But God assures us that his plans for us are of peace, i.e. restoration and wholeness, not for our misfortune, but to give us a future and a hope. A hope is something we expect to happen, something we can hold on to, look forward to, even if our Now looks very different.
God spoke these words in Jeremiah 29:11 to the elders of Judah, who had been taken away in captivity to Babylon. The captivity was a result of the nation’s disobedience to God and the idolatry of their generation and the preceding ones.
The situation they now found themselves in gave the impression their end had come: the northern kingdom of Israel had already been conquered and exiled by the cruel Assyrian empire, now the elite of Judah was being taken away also – surely this was the end of Jewish nationhood.
Their children would grow up as foreigners, slaves in a hostile environment, without the prospect of ever returning home or even being a free nation once more.
But right in this situation God encourages them not to lose hope. He promises an end to their exile and a return to the Promised Land. He reassures them of his good plans.
God’s plans are bigger than any circumstance or political development, and it was thanks to his plans and promise that Judah returned to Jerusalem seventy years later.
Remember that this promise was made to an unfaithful people, not to the righteous remnant, but to those whose sin was so grave that it provoked a judgement so severe that even Jerusalem and God’s own temple would be destroyed.
God also has plans for your life, even though it does not seem that way now.
Maybe the situation you are in is hopeless, you don’t know the way out, and maybe you don’t believe there actually is a way out.
The life you live is not as you would like it to be, it might be frustrating, a nightmare or even “hell on earth”.
It may be due to your own mistakes, wrong decisions you made, your sin, maybe you ran away from God; or maybe you are not to be blamed at all.
Hold on to this verse, and believe that God is good and has good plans for you.
He does not want you to stay where you are, but he wants to bring you to a good place, a good and wholesome future.
If he had good and prosperous plans for a nation that had for so long been unfaithful, how much more will he have them for you?