Jeremiah 29:10 – 14
10 “For the LORD says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore you to your homeland. 11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. 12 When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. 13 When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, 14 I will make myself available to you,’ says the LORD. ‘Then I will reverse your plight and will regather you from all the nations and all the places where I have exiled you,’ says the LORD. ‘I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’
Jeremiah 30:11, 15-17, 24
11 “For I, the LORD, affirm that I will be with you and will rescue you. I will completely destroy all the nations where I scattered you. But I will not completely destroy you. I will indeed discipline you, but only in due measure. I will not allow you to go entirely unpunished. 15 Why do you complain about your injuries, that your pain is incurable? I have done all this to you because your wickedness is so great and your sin is so much 16 But all who destroyed you will be destroyed. All your enemies will go into exile. Those who plundered you will be plundered. I will cause those who pillaged you to be pillaged. 17 Yes, I will restore you to health. I will heal your wounds. I, the LORD, affirm it! For you have been called an outcast, Zion, whom no one cares for. 24 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has fully carried out his intended purposes. In days to come you will come to understand this.”
Possibly one of the most well-known promises of God is found in Jeremiah 29:11. This promise is perhaps popular because we want to believe that our good is God’s goal. But there is a higher purpose than our comfort and blessing. God’s glory and a right relationship with Him far exceeds the value of our lives being perfect on this earth.
Rarely have I heard this precious promise considered in the context in which it was made. It was a promise of restoration and healing in the midst of impending doom being spoken to Jeremiah for God’s people. God was preparing to discipline His children in captivity to Babylon for seventy years, but gave them hope that He was going to use that captivity to ultimately set them free. God’s purposes are always good, but the processes we go through in those purposes are not often valued in the eyes of man.
If relief from suffering is our goal, we miss the jewel in the midst of suffering and what it can produce. From a place of suffering some of the most sincere worship is found. It is in the dark places that we finally cease to rely on self and cry out to our heavenly Father. Our eyes are opened to our need for God’s cleansing in our lives and suddenly our focus becomes clearer. We see Him as our life; nothing in this life could ever satisfy us more than Himself.
We are easily deceived during times of blessing and of trial. Blessing lulls us into a state of being lukewarm and God loves us enough to wake us up and show us what really matters. The enemy uses hardship as an opportunity to create doubt in our hearts about God’s character.
Within our Christian culture there can be lies of prosperity being all that God has planned for His people. But we do not want to be guilty of what the false prophets were in Jeremiah’s day. They counseled rebellion against the LORD by insisting that the hardship Jeremiah prophesied was not from God. If we ascribe to the philosophy of only blessings for God’s people, we become spoiled children only wanting what we perceive as good gifts from our God.
Accepting hardship as discipline from our loving God and praising Him in the midst is where our greatest gift really lies. His purposes truly are only good, all the time. How truly marvelous that our God would go to such lengths to convey His plan and hope to us. In His mercy, God exposes our hearts and reveals that we have worshiped at the god of comfort and of self. We are set free when we trust God in all seasons and worship Him in the fire as well as in the times off peace.
Even though it can be difficult to understand why God allows suffering in, God promises we will understand His purposes when we seek Him with all our heart. His purposes are often hidden deep within our circumstances, a gift to be discovered by those who are willing to lay down their own agenda and seek His will. It is in our fervent worship that we begin to see His purposes far surpass our understanding. It is in laying down our desire for a problem-free life and yielding to His plan rather than fighting it or merely surviving that we begin to see through the eyes of eternity.
What a good God to inject hope when His people were under siege. God knows we are fragile and tend to see only what is right in front of us. His promises are amazing, but not meant to be our joy – He is our ultimate joy and satisfaction in this life.
Lord, help us to find our real purpose and joy in this life – You. Help us to worship You through every purpose and plan You have for this life.