Jeremiah 29:11 is probably one of the single most quoted verses in the Bible.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for good and not evil, to give you a hope and a future.”
Isn’t that such an encouraging message from the Lord? So many of us hold to those words as we believe God for hope. But, did you know that He wrote these words to His people when they were in exile. They were exiled to Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar was ruling over Israel. They were captives….living under the rule of an ungodly king.
So, God speaks to Jeremiah and tells him to write this message to the exiles. He reminds them that He is in control and that He will restore them. I can just imagine the people rejoicing at the thought of being rescued. There’s just one small detail that is really important. He tells them exactly when the rescue is coming. In a week? A few days? Right away? Nope. After 70 years.
What?! 70 years?
Is that supposed to be encouraging? Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself.
“For thus says the Lord, When seventy years is completed for Babylon, I will visit you and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you…” Jeremiah 29:10-11
Why 70 years? Why not right then?
Because He had a plan.
Because the entire future of the world was at stake.
Because Daniel and the three Hebrew children were being developed.
Because He was going to make a brilliant display of God’s glory.
Because the Bible was being written.
Because the Name of God was at stake.
Because those exiles, who were completely absorbed with their own lives, needed to be reminded that the things which are seen are only temporal and the things that are unseen are eternal. God was gracious enough to send them encouragement that if they would believe Him and just hold on, He would come at the perfect time.
God has taught me so much about this. The future that I dreamed of is gone. My plans for the rest of my life, proved to be just that…MY plans and not His. I thought that Clay would be with me until we were old and grey. I assumed he would be with me at all the big events. I dreamed about being really happy empty-nesters one day.
Over the past several weeks, we celebrated two significant life events without Clay. Grace’s High School graduation, and the end of our 15 years at Victory Academy, as Ben graduated from 8thgrade.
As humans, we place such a priority on these events. While Clay sat beside me at Sam’s graduation, just months before he died, the Lord worked a truth into my spirit – the things that are seen are temporal. These life events that we celebrate are mostly not significant in the spiritual realm. Yes, they symbolize success and growth. They give honor to the work of God in our lives, but I had accepted the reality that when we get to heaven, these moments are not going to have significance in eternity.
I’m thankful that the Lord helped me see this because it gave me confidence that I could make it through future events without Clay. But, the void of his presence was so obvious at each one. Everyone is thinking it. No one is really saying it. But, he’s not there. And it’s sad.
When I opened my eyes on Ben’s last day of school, I literally burst into tears. Clay drove our kids to that school every morning for years. I loved his white Ford F-150. My heart still stops sometimes when I see one on the road. He was so good looking behind that wheel. Y’all, that truck was a safe place for my kids. That’s where they talked about life, learned their deep appreciation for all genres of music, and made many memories with their dad. I’m so thankful they had that time with him.
But, it’s over and he’s gone. That harsh reality could make me really mad. It could crush me. The grief I feel when I think about this is so strong.
And, then, the Lord reminds me that He knows the plans He has for me. And, although they don’t look like mine, God is a much better Author than I am. Y’all, He orchestrated thousands of peoples’ lives just to get Daniel into that lion’s den and just to get those 3 Hebrew boys into that furnace. He knew that there was a spectacular opportunity for His greatness to be displayed, so He didn’t rescue the people when they wanted to be rescued.
He was writing the greatest love story of all time, and those exiles in Babylon were part of His story. Some of them were not cast into the roles they wanted, but now that they are in heaven, they can see how vital their life was to God’s plan.
That is my hope. When I see Him face to face, I will understand. And, I relinquish the right to understand it while I live here on earth. I take my thoughts captive and I choose not to dwell on what I want, or the disappointment of what I didn’t get. Rather, I choose to trust my Lord. He is fully trustworthy, and He has a plan. And His plan is for a hope and a future.
I implore you to allow God to engraft this truth into your spirit. It is the only way to live through the pain of this life and not be bitter, disappointed and overcome. If you want to walk in victory and peace, you must let God reveal these spiritual truths to you.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
“When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”
Let God have His way in your life. His plans will not perish. His hope will not be put to shame. His ways will be established if you commit your life to His work. Don’t hold on to what you want, or what you think you deserve. Trust Him with your future.