Thursday, March 17, 2011
A Fresh Look at Jeremiah 29:11
Few books have impacted me, personally and professionally, like the last one that I completed - Pregnant with Hope, by Susan Radulovacki. I stumbled upon the website and blog initially when looking at ways to better understand the struggle with infertility and found that the information was honest, Biblical, and offered encouragement. Whether you are currently experiencing infertility, have in the past, or know someone who is (and whether we realize it or not, we all know someone who is in the midst of it), this book will bless you and provide you with knowledge to help you or someone you know. The following is an excerpt directly from the book that the author gave me permission to share.
"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
Sometimes, hearing God's voice depends on knowing how to listen for it.
Let's begin with the phrase, "For I know the plans..." God is saying that His plans are preconceived and intentional. They precede this moment in time, and they are not random or arbitrary. They are neither last-minute nor a whim. These are plans designed specifically for you, based on His knowledge of all things and His intention to bless you.
"...plans I have for you..." I have for you. I have. Not plans I know you have for you, or plans I know you want Me to have for you. These plans are God's best for you. Because of your freedom to make choices of all kinds (free will), you may never see these plans come to fruition if you choose your plans over God's. Sarah chose not to wait...not to believe...not to trust any plan but her own. But note, even that did not ultimately thwart god's plan for her.
"...declares the Lord;..." God is announcing these plans to you with conviction. He is positive of their existence prior to their execution. The statement, "I know the plans I have for you" carries the full weight and authority of the King who declares them. It is so. He is certain.
"...Plans to prosper you..." The use of active voice reinforces that God will be taking action for your benefit. He intends to prosper you, or to set in motion the prosperity that He wills for you. You will receive the action, receive the blessing that is His gift to you.
"...and not to harm you..." God is making two overlapping promises. He plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Like a Venn diagram, this area of overlap indicates your maximum benefit. He intends to help you, and not to hurt you. He intends to lift you up, and not to hold you back. He plans to bless you, and not to curse you. He is for you, and not against you.
"...plans to give you hope..." The use of active voice and verb "give" reminds again that God will be taking the action; you will be on the receiving end. He will give you hope that originates with Him. Because He is a promise-keeping God, that hope will have a different kind of staying power than the self-based hope you prop up with busyness and frantic efforts to control. It will be vital and full of life. It will be sustained by His will, not just your own.
"...and a future..." Again, God makes two overlapping promises. He will give you hope and give you a future. Not just one or the other, but both. One gift for the waiting time (hope), and another gift of pending blessings (a future). One you need now; one you can await with anticipation and gratitude. The knowledge that you have both can bring you peace - now, and always.
Taken as a whole message, these verses make clear that God is proactively planning abundant blessings for you! Do you hear His voice of reassurance? He is saying, "You can relinquish control and trust Me. You can let go." Your response should be to anticipate these blessings confidently and thrive in the meantime.
But it's not that easy
Why not? Why is it so hard to let go?
The problem is: "For I know..." God has made plans that God-only knows. The excruciating challenge is, you don't know. And you won't know until after-the-fact. If you are going to relinquish control to God, you will have to do so without knowing His plans. You will have to trust Him in the midst of uncertainty.
Can you trust God to keep promises in your life - just as He does in scripture?