Not Forgotten, Not Forsaken

“‘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 so often spoken you may have it committed to memory already without having thought about it.

Unfortunately, it’s one of those verses that, lifted out of context, is misunderstood to mean “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” Happy happy, joy joy!

Think about this: The prophet Jeremiah shared this word with people who had been forcibly taken captive from their homes and families, carried away, and suffering in exile—all, by the way, a result of their disobedience.

This isn’t where they expected to find themselves as God-followers. But it is exactly where God sent them this word—reassuring He hadn’t forgotten or forsaken them. There is a bigger plan, purpose, and picture.

When you read this promise of God’s plan in its context, it is comforting. This present suffering doesn’t—and won’t—have the last word. But realize that it doesn’t mean immediate relief.

God doesn’t promise to swoop in and remove them from the circumstances they’re in. In fact, it was some 70 years before these people would be restored to their homeland. A number among them wouldn’t live to see it.

And one more thing: Before God gave this comforting promise, He gave the people an instruction:

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).

That sort of reads, “Make the most of this.” It’s hard to imagine this is what the people wanted to hear. This doesn’t undermine the promise, however, but makes it all the more meaningful. It reassures that God is in this.

Jeremiah 29:11, then, is a call to faith. God’s picture is an eternal one. Resting in God’s promise means believing, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Do you believe?

My prayer for this week:

Lord, today in the midst of difficulties, please help me remember you are the steward of the big picture—you have a plan and a purpose that are unfolding. Help me to trust—and rest—in you.