Today I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11, the Bible verse that was scripted in icing on the cake celebrating my high school graduation.
The verse reads, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'”
But instead of us focusing on this Scripture in isolation and settling into our happy places, I want to push us to see the verse through a Godly lens.
This was a letter Jeremiah was writing to the Jews during a period of captivity. Seventy years they would be in bondage. Generations would pass before freedom would arrive. This wasn’t seventy seconds of discomfort, this was seventy entire years.
And years in the Bible don’t go any faster than years in our lives. They go at the same steady pace.
Even so, here we find Jeremiah telling the people that God had plans for their good, to give them not only a future but also a hope.
How on earth could seventy years of being held prisoner ever produce anything remotely good?
The answer is this: through God.
I’m not speaking as one who hasn’t endured her fair share of bombshells and disappointing blows. I know what it feels like to have your hopes up and then have them torn down in a single swipe. I am intimate with the feeling of loneliness and uncertainty, of being a part but apart.
I may be young, but I know what it is to suffer. No, I haven’t endured what some people have, and my intention is not to lessen anyone’s individual pain. But I’m not immune to hurt. I may put on a strong face, and I may slip on my big girl britches, but I’ve spent many a night crying to myself.
And yet I can say with my mouth and mean it with all my heart “Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men.” (Psalm 66:5)
I don’t always understand why things happen the way they do, or why God shuts some doors that we thought He wanted us to walk through. I do know, however, that it is in the valleys that my weakness is made strong.
I love the song by the Crabb Family that sings “He never promised that the cross would not get heavy, and the hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered our victories without fighting, but He said help would always come in time.”
If we stop running through life focusing only on what we can see with our physical eyes, we will be made abundantly aware of God’s hand in our lives. We will never know His plans from start to finish, but as I heard in a sermon by Pastor Steven Furtick, “God is the God of the detours.”
He sees the entire future laid out, and He knows our character could use some more developing before we reach the next checkpoint. Our faith needs some sharpening, our focus needs some re-shifting.
Whatever the season, God has a reason.