“‘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 (NIV)
Truthfully, this translation is not the best for this verse (see part 1). Even though millions have it as a life verse, have used it for comfort and have placed it on everything from bumper stickers to coffee mugs, it still doesn’t capture what God is saying.
It’s Makenzie’s life verse as well but there is so much more meaning to it if you dig into the context and the original language. In context, God has exiled the Israelites to Babylon (which is a whole ‘nother theological discussion). He tells them to hang out, do what needs to be done, get married, build a life etc. But at the end of 70 years, He is going to bring them back to their homeland.
The Israelites are ticked, tired and tried. They need to know that God hasn’t abandoned them or forgotten about them. They need some encouragement from this God who, in His love, allowed desperate hardship to uproot their entire people group. And in comes verse 11 of Jeremiah 29:11. Through a word of encouragement, God says to this beat up nation, “Hey! Don’t worry. Hang in there. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
God doesn’t have an individual plan for you but more importantly, He has a larger purpose for you (again, see part 1). And, as the original language points out, God thinks good thoughts about you. For one, they are thoughts of peace. It is possible to be in the worst life tragedy or the most frustrating situation and still have peace! The peace that God gives! He doesn’t think evil on you either. Meaning, if you feel like God has allowed destruction in your life, behind the scenes, He is working it into something good (see Romans 8:28). He also knows what the end of the story looks like in your life and, again, it is good. It may not be what you expect, but it is good.
Our family is experiencing this good right now. Coming next month, it will be 3 years since the Lord danced my oldest daughter, Makenzie, to heaven. It has been extremely hard, much of the time. It has been a journey that I wish upon no one. But we are seeing how even in the midst of the struggle, we have had peace. And it is good.
So go ahead and mark up the T-shirts with Jer. 29:11. Claim it for your confirmation or life verse. Tattoo it on your hand. Whatever. God has great thoughts and a purpose for your existence. Live fully, Love God and Laugh from your gut. Life is worthy of that!