What Does "Plans to Prosper You" Mean?
I’m on Day 53 of my 4-month read thru the Bible. Today was Day 2 in Jeremiah and I came across the most quoted verse in 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.
I’ve heard these words a bunch of times. What I’ve never heard anyone talk about is the verse before this verse. Here it is:
This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.”
The Israelites are in exile in Babylon. They’re not at home. They’re not where they want to be. And they’re not really happy about it. And yet, God tells them that He’s going to leave them there for 70 years before bringing them back home. Seventy years!
Since most people didn’t even live to be 70 years old, God was basically saying, “Your kids are going to come back home. Many of you will die here in exile. But I know the plans I have for you. (Though they’re not the plans you’d come up with for yourself.) To prosper you. (Though not in the way you’d like me to.) To give you hope. (Though maybe not the end result you would hope for.) To give you a future. (Though not the future you’d dream up.)
I found myself reading these words this morning and wondering how I would respond to God promising prosperity, hope and a future, right after telling me He was going to keep me in exile for most – maybe all! – of my life. I’ve been asking myself questions like: What is prosperity? Is my hope circumstantial? Do I really trust God with my future? Am I only going to praise God with He does things my way?
Interestingly, God’s next words to the people of Israel are:
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Calling. Praying. Seeking. With my whole heart. Maybe if I did more of these things, I’d be much more likely to experience God’s prosperity, hope, and future for me – and recognize that His plans for me are good. Always good.