What You Never Knew About Jeremiah 29:11

Put the famous verse in context, and amazing things happen…

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I don’t know what the future holds. Neither do you. We’re constantly going through life making plans and setting goals. That’s great! But deep down, we all have this fear about the future.

That’s why so many have found comfort in Jeremiah 29:11. I have too. In fact, it’s my Dad’s life verse. We see it on cards, and we tweet it.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

That sounds great! And it is…in the right context.

I just got done reading the rest of the chapter before that verse. I encourage you to do the same. Why?

Because you will find that sometimes welfare and hope aren’t what we think they should be.

This chapter is written to people in exile. They had been ripped from their homes and families. They were in an unknown land. Not exactly what you would call the most hopeful situation.

God tells them to build houses, get married and have children — to live their lives. Then, He drops this bombshell in verse 7:

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Does being in exile sound hopeful to you? I‘m not so sure that I’d actively seek the welfare of the city that ripped me from my homeland. But that’s what God tells them to do.

Jump to verse 10:

For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

Ok, but what if you’re an 80 year-old? You’re not going to be around when that 70 years is up. This is turning into a pretty bleak picture. And THAT is where the famous Jeremiah 29:11 comes in:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Maybe you feel like you’re in exile right now. Maybe you’re in a job you don’t want. Maybe you’re unsure of the next steps in life. Maybe you have questions. Maybe your family has been ripped apart by divorce.

Whatever the situation, God wants you to flourish where you are. He has plans for your future, yes, but he also has plans for your present. That’s what I found out about Jeremiah 29:11 for the first time tonight. It’s just as much a verse about the present as it is about the future.

“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

It may not take God 70 years to show you the plans He has for your future. It might take 10. Maybe even 20. Or maybe He’ll show you tomorrow. What matters is that God is with you RIGHT NOW, and He wants you to flourish. He tells those in exile to build houses, plant gardens and get married. He tells them to have a beautiful life where they are. With God, even the most bleak circumstances can become beautiful.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re wondering how you’ll find out what plans God has for you when it does become time, Jeremiah 29:13 just happens to be another popular verse that hits the nail on the head:

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Thanks for reading. Please know that you are appreciated. Feel free to respond to this post and let me know your thoughts about this verse or about how you wrestle with the present and the future. And if you’d like to see more of my writing, you can visit my website or head over to Cooking With Sarah — the Medium publication where my wife and I recound our weekly cooking adventures. In any case, I thank you again and wish you all the best. Blessings, friend!

Christ-follower. Husband to @SarahLCharles. Simple moments hold great power. Connect with me at my website: www.aarondcharles.com

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