“I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me! Jeremiah 29:11-13
What’s your immediate response when you read these verses?
I’m not asking you for the “Sunday School answer,” the one you think you’re supposed to give because it’s what’s expected. The one that “if my faith was as I wish it was, this is how I’d answer.” The one that “so-and-so, that person who has immense faith I know,” would answer. God knows your initial response. He knows your struggles. He wants you to be honest with him – and with yourself.
For many, these verses spur confusion, regret, fear, anger, frustration, because…
- How could God say he doesn’t have plans to hurt me when I’ve been hurt?
- Is God not big enough handle the details of my life?
- Does God simply not care?
- Am I doing something wrong?
- Why do I struggle with knowing or understanding God’s plan? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Life doesn’t make sense, but it’s not because God can’t make sense of it. It makes perfect sense to him. He knows. He understands. We don’t. We’re limited in what we can know and understand. We make all sorts of assumptions about what’s going on in our lives within our limited knowledge and understanding, and those assumptions lead to some of the above questions. We can easily get stuck in the muck of limited perspective even though that’s not God’s intention at all. Our limited perspective is a blessing. We can’t handle what he knows and understands. We weren’t created to be little gods. We were created by THE God to be his creation. We’re created in his image. We’re not carbon copies.
Let’s commit to setting aside our needs for more of what we want and letting God consume us with what he wants and what he knows we need through each season of our lives. Life changes just as the seasons change. We can be warmed by the sun one day and bone-chilling cold the next. We gather beautiful bouquets of colorful flowers one day and dig into frozen ground to find any remnant of a sign of life the next. It’s not just about what’s going on around us; seasons occur deep within us. Our lives are marked with spiritual seasons – and they aren’t as predictable as the beginning of seasons on the calendar. A season can be short or long, expected or unpredictable, welcomed or ignored. We won’t understand or appreciate every spiritual season of our lives. We likely won’t even acknowledge some, while we try to bask too long in others.
What you’re currently experiencing as winter might be a spiritual spring to which you simply haven’t been awakened yet. The chill you feel in the air in the middle of what you believe to be summer might be an early onset of spiritual fall. God – and your spiritual growth – isn’t ruled by a calendar. You have your own calendar with God. Your calendar is unique and cannot be compared to any other. Jeremiah 29 includes no words that indicate if you plan and do well enough, you will prosper. Prospering in God is drastically different than prospering by the world’s standards. You will prosper through his plan. Because he created you and knows you more intimately than you know yourself, he knows where to guide you and how to use your experiences of living in this imperfect world. You can trust him for his perfect plan or try it on your own. I’ve tried it both ways, and as difficult as it is to yield myself to him and give up my own needs and wants, the bottom line is that God takes care of my needs and wants much more completely when I yield them to melt into his.
So how can you not only live with but thrive in the promises of Jeremiah 29:11-13? We’ll dig into these verses in more depth in tomorrow’s post, but for now, let’s consider and share:
What’s a word or phrase that best describes what you believe your needs to be in this spiritual season of your life?