Surviving Our Seasons of Suffering
“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.” Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
Have you ever walked through difficult circumstances that felt unending? The kind that require you to be longsuffering?
Longsuffering isn’t a word I want to be part of my story. It means having or showing patience despite troubles. And I don’t particularly want troubles to begin with … let alone for any extended period of time.
Thankfully, today’s passage of Scripture offers us encouragement for when we’re not sure we can endure our season of suffering for one more second.
In Jeremiah 29, the children of Israel get news from the prophet Jeremiah that they are going to be held in captivity by Babylon for 70 years. Think about how long 70 years is. If we had to go to prison today for 70 years, for most of us, that would mean we’d probably die in captivity. Seventy years feels impossibly long, incredibly unfair and horribly hard. It would seem like a lifetime hardship without a lifeline of hope.
But here’s what God told the people of Israel: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10).
This is the scene and the setting where we then get these familiar and glorious promises I love to cling to:
“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 …” (Jeremiah 29:11‒14).
God is assuring His people that His thoughts and intentions toward them are fixed and established. His plans are for their “welfare” (šālôm), not for hurt. His sure and steady promise is one of restoration.
But He also reminds them of what they must do as they await the fulfillment of His promise. They need to call on Him. They need to intentionally and wholeheartedly seek Him.
When we seek God, we see God. We don’t see His physical form, but we see Him at work and can start to see more of what He sees. Trust grows. If our hearts are willing to trust Him, He will entrust to us more of His perspective.
If we want to see Him in our circumstances and see His perspective, we must seek Him, His ways and His Word. That’s where we find His good plans and promises for hope and a future.
If we find ourselves in an incredibly disappointing place — a place we don’t want to be — it’s easy to start feeling that some of God’s good plans don’t apply to us. We can even lapse into the mentality that we somehow slipped through the cracks of God’s good plans.
But the truth is, God is closer than we often realize. He sees things we don’t see, and He knows things we don’t know. He has a perspective from where He is that allows Him to see all things — the past, the present and the future — from the day we are conceived to the day we breathe our last breath, and even beyond that into eternity. He declares He is our rescuer. He is the One who will sustain us. And He is more than able to bring His plans to pass. (Isaiah 46:3-11)
All of these things were true for the Israelites. And they’re true for us.
For the Israelites, the news that they would be in captivity for 70 years was absolute reality. But the truth that God had a good plan and a purpose not to harm them but to give them a future and a hope — that promise was very much in process all the while they were in captivity.
This is how we, too, can trust God in the midst of our longsuffering journeys: by having a higher perspective in our present realities.
Let’s cry out to Him in the midst of our suffering. Let’s earnestly seek Him and ask Him to help us look at our circumstances through the lens of His love instead of a lens of disillusionment and disappointment. We are not forgotten or forsaken. And our longsuffering won’t seem nearly as long or nearly as painful when we know God’s perspective is to use every single second of our suffering for good.
Father God, thank You for reminding me I can trust You in the waiting. I know I can entrust every season of my life into Your hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (NIV)
Is the life you dreamed of having devastatingly different from the one you’re actually living? Join us for our next Online Bible Study starting January 21 as we shift our suspicion that God is cruel or unfair to the biblical assurance that God is protecting and preparing us, using Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, It's Not Supposed to Be This Way. Click here to register for free.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you been looking at life through the lens of disappointment or the lens of God’s love? How can you let the truth of God’s goodness shift your perspective this week? Join in the conversation here.
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