God’s Plan for Your Future

  • Randy Karlberg

Happy New Year!!
January 1 st often brings joy, new hope, and wishes for all the best in the coming year.
Some will include passages of Scripture with their messages that point to joy and
hope. One very familiar passage that is used in this way is Jeremiah 29:11 . “For I
know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.” This verse is often quoted on graduation cards to
students and those who are looking for God’s direction in life. But as is often the
case, if we pluck a verse out of the middle of a book of the Bible and use it in a way
that works for us, we run the risk of not comprehending the meaning of the verse
and even using Scripture to contradict the message God intends to give us. We must
give heed to the context in which the passage is written.
Now this verse from Jeremiah 29 is not so much in danger of being used in a way
that goes against Scripture, but if we are not aware of the framework in which this
the verse is embedded, we miss out greatly on the message of verse 11. I think this will
potentially give us not only a fresh understanding of this verse but will give us an
eternal perspective of God’s ceaseless work in our lives.
Jeremiah 29 begins with these words; “These are the words of the letter that
Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and
to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken
into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” So understanding that the message of verse
11 that God has plans for blessing and hope are spoken to the people who God had
sent into slavery. This “Word from the Lord” comes while they are in bondage in a
foreign land! And did you notice that it was not just the people who were in slavery?
We are told that the elders, priests, and prophets were also ripped from the freedom
of their homeland and marched into Nebuchadnezzar’s workforce. Now when they
heard this declaration from God I presume they had two choices with which to
process this message. One, they could shake their fist at God and say, “Oh really?!
You have sent us into slavery and you expect us to hope that you will give us a
blessed future? Why not right now God?” The second reaction to this oracle could
be, “Oh God You are Holy! We have sinned and rebelled against you and that is why
we are in foreign slavery. Only because of Your faithfulness to Your people can we
look and understand that You will grant us hope for a blessed future and not the evil
we deserve.” Is that not how we should respond to each struggle in our lives? It can
either help bring us to repentance and see our need for God, or it serves to harden
our hearts and require God to give an account for what He is doing in our lives. We
need to continually be in prayer for ourselves and others that the trials of this world
will bring us closer to God and not embitter us toward Him.
Now if we actually draw closer to God through trials, and develop an eternal
perspective of the redemptive work of heartache and grief, we have at least a couple
of outcomes that fill our lives with hope.
First, we understand that this life is to show us who we are from God’s perspective.
We begin to see that God is continually at work refining and molding us as His
vessels for His use. And secondly, which should be the first I guess, we are
compelled to give praise and glory to God for who He is and what He is doing in and
through us. As you ponder this thought, think about passages of Scripture that urge
us to “worship the Lord.” I won’t take the time to give you examples. You should
spend some time in the Word searching for the call to worship and praise of the
Lord. But know this, that you will be so blessed as you seek to worship Him!
So as we look to a new year upon us, many will say “good riddance 2020!” And with
the struggles, we have faced that is understandable to an extent. But I want to
challenge us to look at the oracle that was uttered over 2,500 years ago, to a people
embroiled in judgment and slavery, of which the struggles realized in our current
day cannot even register on the scale. It is with this background in mind that I want
to share with you that the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares
the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then
you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear 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 I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the
nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will
bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
That promise to the remnant of His people Israel should be encouraging to us. For if
God is faithful to His people though they sin against Him, will He not also be faithful
to His children who sin, repent, and walk in His grace in our current day? We cannot
over realize God’s faithfulness. For it is His unchangeable character that gives us the
assurance of His promises, which give us hope for the days to come.
I pray you will have a wonderful New Year filled with hope and peace through