“For this is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”
Something that everyone experiences, regardless of their views on God, is suffering. During times of suffering, we as believers may rightly be drawn to Scripture and prayer to seek comfort and understanding. Moreover, those who are not followers of Jesus may even find themselves there as well! Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse that believers are pretty familiar with; however, it’s important to know the context and true meaning of that verse (along with every verse in Scripture we reference).
The two things to remember about this verse are:
- This was to the entire nation of Israel while they were in exile/captivity by the Babylonians. So the prosperity, future, and hope spoken of here is when they are reestablished in Israel (happening with Ezra and Nehemiah).
- Their prosperity, future, and hope was coming on the other side of a seventy-year waiting period, where they were charged with taking on spouses, growing their group, and caring for the well-being of the people and city.
Just like the Israelites, we can find ourselves in seasons of suffering and (what may feel like) separation from God. But God is faithful in His promises and presence, and never leaves or forsakes us. There are also levels of intimacy and comfort that can only be found with God and our family/friends when we’re depending on them and walking with them during those hard times. Oftentimes, seeking to grow in our faith is like seeking to grow in our patience. Growing in those things means working and refining them through tests, trials, and hardships, much like someone lifting weights and running to build muscle and endurance.
Faith also means that we recognize God is in control, and growth means persevering in our dependence on Him during suffering instead of wrestling away control so we can avoid it. Hopefully, we don’t have a seventy-year time of enduring like the Isralites in this passage. However, that does highlight that the rich depth and understanding of our faith and relationship with God is usually on the other side of things we are unwilling to do. That’s why we need each other…our church family…brothers and sisters in Christ to support and encourage us as we traverse this narrow path of faith and dependence on our faithful, loving, eternal Creator.
Action Steps: Read Nehemiah 9:7-31 and put yourself in the shoes of an ancient Israelite hearing this story told to the multitudes as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Then, reach out to someone here at Calvary to tell us how we can pray and care for you. Finally, reach out to a close friend or family member to convey your hardship, followed by asking them how you can support them in whatever they are facing right now.