Day 5: A Hope and a Future
‘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.’
I would say that I’m fairly familiar with this verse; probably you are too!
Growing up, I remember this particular verse being displayed in a very prominent place. I’d see it multiple times a day and read it multiple times a day.
It’s a verse that offers much comfort to us; to know that God not only knows us but has purpose, prosperity, security, hope and a future for us.
When we’re struggling with knowing what to do next, or we’re feeling we’re lacking provision, this verse is often recited of shared to encourage and uplift us; and rightly so!
It’s a great promise to hold onto!
However, today I want to take a step back and see if we can learn something new from this very familiar verse.
When we begin to look at this verse, within the context of the rest of this chapter, we find out that this verse is part of a letter that was sent by the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites exiled in Babylon. Israelites who were living in a foreign land, culture and living in a pagan nation, with customs foreign and contrary to their belief in God. There must have been so much uncertainty, questioning, fear among them because of the situation they found themselves in.
However in verse 5, Jeremiah brings a great promise to the Israelites about how they are to live in the midst of their captivity.
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce… …Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
In the midst of all this uncertainty and fear amongst the Israelites because of their captivity, God; through the prophet Jeremiah, is instructing His people not to let their lives get stuck in their circumstance but, in spite of their captivity, to keep moving forward – to build, to plant, to produce, to increase, to seek peace and prosperity in the city.
This was a word for the Israelite community then and it’s a word for us as a community of believers today; the body of Christ; His Church.
For you as an individual, God has plans of purpose, to prosper you, plans of hope and security. Let me encourage you; I’ve experienced this throughout my own life! But also let’s be encouraged that for us as a body of believers, God has plans for our Church to prosper, not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future.
As a community of believers, God is looking to us to build, to plant, to produce, to increase, to seek peace and prosperity in our cities and we can do this as God has promised by working together through the body of Christ; His Church.
God’s plan for His people at that time was bigger than they could comprehend, maybe they didn’t understand the circumstance they were in, but God’s promises are bigger than we can ever understand, we can hold firm to this Unshakable Hope, that we have a hope and a future in Him.
God, thank you that we have a hope and a future in you. Despite what I’m facing, you have a plan and a purpose for me. Thank you that with others who love and follow you, I can live a life full of purpose, advancing your Kingdom in this world.
Ps Jonny Foster
Campus Pastor, Barnard Castle