“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.” Jeremiah 29:11
This verse is well known to many of us. Over the past year I have been inundated with this verse in the most unexpected places. It has almost been following me. I find when that happens it’s not a coincidence, but God trying to tell me something. So, after a year of wondering why I keep seeing this verse everywhere, I decided to dig deeper into the seemingly simple text. Here is what I’ve learned…
“For I know the plans I have for you”
God has a plan for my life? I have struggled with this idea in the past. It’s wonderful to believe that the Creator knows the path I should take, but how am I supposed to discern that plan? It’s not like I have the “red phone”. You know, in those old movies where a really important person has five phones on his/her desk, 4 black and 1 red. On the rarity, when the red phone rings, you know it’s a direct line to someone even more important. I have always thought that my mother-in-law has the “red phone” connecting her directly with God. She seems to always make sense of things that happen in her life and understand the next right step. Then I realized her direct line to God comes from her daily prayer life. Prayer is something she needs like food or sleep. I’ll confess that I am not quite there yet, but I am working toward a “red phone” of my own.
“Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you”
If this is true, then why have I endured struggles and sadness? God never said that every day would be easy. What He does promise is that He will be with us through the good and the bad. God will never leave us. We just have to trust in him. Trust! Ugh! Why does it feel easier to trust God, a Being that I have never physically seen, than to trust people? Our trust has been put to the test lately, in our world and in our community. How do we overcome this trust issue? I am directed back to the previous paragraph. Prayer! We need to pray about all things. We need to pray for our congregation, our pastors, and our leaders. We need to pray and God will provide what’s needed. He will restore our trust.
“Plans to give you hope, and a future”
Wait, give me hope? I thought I was supposed to just feel hope inside. I have, at times, been mockingly called “Bright-side Teri” for my strong belief that things have a way of working themselves out. I’m not claiming to have more hope than others or saying that I am blind to the bad in the world. It’s something that I have to work at every day. It’s a choice. I choose to see the good and believe that people have good intentions. But, inevitably it leads back to the first part of this text again. We need to be in prayer. Our hope comes from God alone.
So, that’s what I have learned. And just when I thought I had it all figured out, God sent me a new verse as I drafted this message. “You will call to Me and come to pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13 Well, shoot…why didn’t God just send me that verse first? It seems to sum up all that I’ve been learning. God knows my heart and knew I needed to wrestle with verse 11 before I could truly appreciate verses 12 and 13. May this new year bring us prosperity and renewed hope for our future. And may we continue to connect with God using our “red phone.”