“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land'” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT).
Notice what God is telling us. He does not say that only some of the plans He has for us are for good, but that all the plans that He has for us are for good, and not for disaster. How can this be, when the world is so full of tragedy, and despair tugs at our heart strings on a regular basis?
Notice again that God says, “In those days when you pray, I will listen.”When God spoke these words through His prophet, Jeremiah, it was at the beginning of the seventy years of captivity of the Israelites in Babylon. God instructed his people to “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:4-7 NLT).
The people had lost everything they had, their possessions, their homes, many lost their lives. Their capital city and the Temple that King Solomon had built were destroyed. But even in the face of grief and exile, God cautioned His people not to despair and dwindle away. He told them that “In those days,” difficult days of loneliness and exile, all of God’s plans were to give them hope and a future, and that if they would seek Him with their whole hearts, He would listen and comfort them. That ultimately, God would restore all that their enemies had taken.
God said: Don’t stop living! Marry and have children, enjoy your grandchildren! Build homes! Nourish your bodies! Live your lives, and pray for peace, even in the midst of unforseen circumstances. Even if you find yourselves in an unknown country. Pray, and keep praying. Don’t dwindle away! I am with you! Open your heart and look for Me and you will find Me!
God called out to His people through his prophet. He did not want them to despair, but to remember that His plans were to give them hope and a future, and that He had not forgotten His plans or His people.
God sends out the same call to us in these days. When the evening news is full of tragedy and strife, do not despair! God is with you!
When disaster strikes from out of nowhere, remember, God has a plan. And He knows exactly how you fit into his plan. His plan is not to harm you, but to bring good to you, and to prosper you for your blessing and His glory.
If you are suffering now, God knows. If you are afraid, God knows. If you are grieving, God knows. He is with you, and above all, He knows the plans that He has for you. He will not abandon you.
God has given us simple instructions to follow when we are certain that all is lost. We are His people. We are in exile, strangers and pilgrims on this earth, longing for our eternal home. While we are here, we are subject to all the trials of the natural world. But God does not leave us alone. He comforts us. He hears us when we call out to Him. We find Him when we seek Him with our whole hearts.
And so, Beloved, pray. Seek God with your whole heart, especially when your heart is full of sorrow. He will be found by you. He will comfort you. He wants you to live your life and not to fade away. His promise to us is that in Him we have hope, and we have a future.
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (Romans 12:12 NLT).
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:18-20 NIV).