Check the blueprints
By Mike Waine
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.”
What words to read at a time such as this!
The prophet Jeremiah first relayed these words to the people of Israel during their time in captivity in Babylon. This meant they were forcibly removed from their home and their land, their places of work and worship. One imagines that the overall mood for the Israelites was pretty low. After all, the false prophet Hananiah had just tried to convince them that they would be free and back home in just two years. Jeremiah then comes along, disregards Hananiah’s words and offers his statement of Jeremiah 29 as a response.
Shockingly, and contrary to what may have been expected, God speaks through Jeremiah to tell His people to build lives in this new place.
Verse 7 says:
“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare”
This is shortly followed by the famous promise we read at the start of this post. In this place, in the midst of the situation they feared and find themselves suffering in – estranged from their promised land- God has a plan to prosper them, to give them hope!
This, then, is a clear reminder of God’s goodness, regardless of circumstance. It is not just that God has good plans for us, but rather that in the midst of our toughest challenges and hardest times, God is with us, for us and making a way ahead of us.
Whilst we are still coming to terms with life under Coronavirus, uncertain of how long this will go on and what measures will come next, we can own this passage perhaps a little more than usual. We can associate a little more closely with the exiled Israelites.
As we find ourselves in the story of Jeremiah and the exiles, we draw closer to God’s heart for the lost, frightened and confused. We can experience a fresh understanding of God’s goodness and His caring for us- indeed His presence with us in the middle of times of panic.
So, why not pray this verse over yourself and our community today.
Reflect on what this means for us now, and what new aspects of God’s character we can get to know in our present situations.