How Learning the True Meaning of Jeremiah 29:11 Helped me Find Joy
Updated: Mar 31, 2019
“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
Like many of us, Jeremiah 29:11 is the verse I’ve always turned to when life gets a little (or a lot) rough. I would read the verse and say to myself “I’m going to get through this because God has a plan for me”, “once this is over, God will give me hope”. It was always centered on that “future” that is referenced in the verse. I realized, not too long ago, that whether it was a really hard season of life or just a busy season of life, I was in a constant state of “once we get through this” or “once this (whatever the extracurricular of the season) gets over” then we can… relax, get together, go to church every week, etc.
Recently, I read an article discussing the true meaning of the verse written by Mary Demuth . The basic gist, if we back up a few verses, is that the Isrealites had disobeyed God and He sent them into Babylonian exile. Hananiah and other seers were telling them that all was going to be well soon, but they were lying. Jeremiah called them out and told the Jewish people that relief was coming but not anytime soon, in fact, most of them would live out their lives in exile so they needed to embrace a life there. The article put the verse in its true context and after reading it, I realized that this verse, while a source of comfort, also became a sort of postponement of joy; God plans to prosper me, but not right now; God is giving me a hope, but, in the future.
When I first read the article, there was a moment of “What? So it isn’t saying ‘just hang on a little while and life will be great’? I’m supposed to find my hope and future and prosperity in the middle of the mess? That kinda sucks!” Then I realized that I used the verse to spend so much time wishing parts of my life away. Big chunks of my time were spent waiting for the sadness to pass after we lost a loved one or our schedule to lighten up so we wouldn’t be so busy. Wouldn’t life be so much better if we found our hope in every moment, even the bad ones? Because let’s be honest, doesn’t it seem like we are in a constant state of “when this (fill in the blank) is over, things will get back to normal”? I finally came to the realization that this is “normal”; we are always busy and there is always something on the schedule taking time away from other things we’d rather be doing.
After I had this little epiphany about life I spent some time thinking back on some of those rough seasons and trying to find the positives that came out of them. For most of those times I could find something good that came out of them but there are certainly some that will always be a mystery. I think for some things, you can’t look back and find the joy or even the lesson. I guess those are the times when faith is really important. My hope and prayer moving forward is that when I’m in the middle of the mess, I can look for the good and see the potential for my hope and prosperity and if I can’t see it, that I can at least know that God does have a plan for the suffering. He likes to give us opportunities for growth, opportunities to see how much strength we have, especially when we lean in to Him. So the next time you are in a tough season, continue to pray for strength and peace and even relief but also pray that He can help you find the joy and hope and prosperity in every moment.
I would love for everyone to share your favorite Bible verse in the comments.