Plans and Hopes

I once heard a man verbalize his impatience with those who quote 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,

He declared it was not a quote for us today, but was directed specifically at the Jewish exiles in Babylon, who had been exiled due to their rebellion against the Lord. These Jews, who at the time were being encouraged to accept their consequence, settle in, stop listening to the lies and promises of the false prophets, plant gardens, marry and increase, and basically  bloom where they were planted.  Was all that true?  Yes.  But, is that the end of the history lesson? Absolutely not!

I said nothing at the time because I wanted to think it through and figure out why his declaration so saddened my heart.  I felt he was a representative of many believers who tend to forget what the point of God’s Word is all about.  There can almost be a sense of egotism, belittling others who rely on the hope that comes from verses like this.  These scoffers become overly scholastic about the scriptures, forgetting the very reason God taught holy men to write the Bible.  Please, don’t misunderstand me.  I am all for studying the Word of God, and being a good berean, correctly dividing His Word through proper interpretation, but that should be on the heels of remembering that God’s purpose for us is to know Him.  The only revelation of God’s character that we have is His Holy Word.  The Bible is filled with history from the creation of the World into the 90’s.  Why doesn’t the Bible go beyond that?  Because God was satisfied with the Scripture’s revelation of who He is and His plan for salvation at that point.  Everything that God wants us to know about Him is found in the 66 books of the Bible.  From that point on, the degree of intimacy we have with the person of God will depend on the intimacy we have with His Auto-(written by God, the Holy Spirit)-biography.  Do we spend time with God, through His Word on a daily basis?  If not, how can we possibly know Him or the plans He has for us?

Interestingly enough, I have often gained encouragement through Jeremiah 29:11, not because I think God is going to do in my life exactly what he declares to the exiles in this passage, but because I take a huge amount of hope in the revelation of His compassion and love that he pours out on these very disobedient children.  As I have spent hours walking through the Old Testament, I have been both frustrated by those “stiff necked” people of God, and at the same time, humbly convicted in the knowledge that without the power of His Holy Spirit in my life, I would have done no better.

As a mom I have desired the very best for my children.  I have done everything I can to raise them up according to the admonition of the Lord and I have failed at so many points.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t do it perfectly.  That is where knowing the precious, loving, compassionate character of my God and Savior, through His History Book becomes so impacting!  I do believe that God knows the plans He has for me and for my family.  I do believe He has specific plans for my children, and in my frailty I cannot thwart His plans.  He is God!  In God’s gentleness and love, I do believe His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us.  Does that mean there will be no trials, no illness, no poverty in our lives?  Absolutely not!  Hardships will be a part of His good plan (I know that because I read that as a pattern in His Word), but I have the opportunity to accept that as His good plan and to trust the outcome in the hands of my loving and compassionate God.  Even David, when conscience stricken regarding sin, repenting and asking for relief from his guilt, was given three options for consequence:

So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.” (2 Sam. 24:13)

and in response:

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”(2 Sam. 24:14)

“His mercy is great”!  Will God prosper us? Yes, spiritually.  And He will keep us safe eternally.  That is where my confident hope lies as He has provided us with the firm truth of Salvation through the blood of His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, who is our propitiation.  One cannot have this promise of hope for the future and the avoidance of harm if that one has not submitted her life under the authority of King Jesus.  My children will have to go through their trials in life.  As they make their decisions to be submitted Christians, they will spend the rest of their lives being refined in the fires that are their sanctification.  I would worry for them more if they did not go through the hardships, for God chastens those He loves.  His character, as seen in His Word, is that of the perfect Father.  One who knows the plans He has for us.  Plans to prosper them/us and not to harm them/us.  Plans to give us a hope and a future.  The question is not whether this scripture is for us today… but whether we trust Him with the Truth of His Words to us.  I am so grateful that my children sit in His hands, and not my own.  As their mom, I will be committed to continue to direct them to the relationship that saves, as found between the covers of the Bible, that they may glorify God their Father, and enjoy Him forever!

Sharon Cannavo
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