I’ve decided that my verse for the new year is Jeremiah 29:11-13. I’m usually not one to post about the new year. However, the lessons I’ve learned from studying these verses were ones I feel I need 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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
We often approach this verse (especially verse 11) out of context, using it as the “security blanket” of God has a plan for me, so whatever trial I’m in will end soon, then I can grow. However, one of my favorite authors (Mary DeMuth) addresses it in a way that has stuck with me. The heart of the verse is “not that we would escape our lot, but that we would learn to thrive” during it.
The Jewish people had disobeyed God in every way imaginable. They traded Him for evil gods, and God exiled them to Babylon as a result of their disobedience. Along comes a false prophet who prophesied peace and told them they would be back in Jerusalem soon. He told them all was well. However, that wasn’t the case. Jeremiah confronts him, calling out his lie, and states the promise that is Jeremiah 29:11. It is true God does have a good plan for the Israelites (and us,) a plan that will give them (and us) hope and a prospering future? But Jeremiah also gave them a directive from God in Jeremiah 29:7 which isn’t even close to what they wanted to hear. They wanted to be told they would be home soon, that their suffering was going to end. But, God’s plan was for them to stay there for 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10) and help the nation and that once enslaved them.
So as we begin the new year, let us cling to the promises we find in these verses. Remember that God knows the plan He has for us and it will ultimately lead to a wonderful future. However, growth comes from persevering through trials, not escaping them. We find out how to learn to persevere, leaning on the Lord in times of difficulty, in verses 12 and 13. God hears our prayers, and when we seek Him, He will make Himself known. When we learn perseverance and trust God and His plan for our lives, we can find true joy, even in the midst of our struggles.