“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. A verse that is spoken so many times at happy events. Weddings, engagement parties, baby showers. It is a verse that should carry hope, and does. This is a verse that could have been a song of celebration when God’s people finally made it to the land He promised them. The land overflowing with milk and honey.
But this is a verse that should really be spoken in life’s darkest hours. Because it was then that Jeremiah wrote these words to the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.
These words come right after the Israelites were given false promises from Hananiah, that God would bring them back to their home after two years.
The Israelites were in exile. The punishment, a result of their disobedience. And this promise comes during a time of captivity. Furthermore, before this promise is made, God gives them a directive.
“seek the peace and the 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.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
This would probably be the last thing I wanted to hear. Prosper in captivity. Some promise, huh? And then on top of that, forget that two year thing, you read in verse 10 (yup, again before that great promise) that they would be in Babylon for 70 years.
But in turn, these are the words that He would speak to us in the middle of our battles, in the middle of our storms, in the middle of our exile. Prosper here. Seek Me, here. That is where you will find Me, here.
I like rainbows. Actually I love rainbows. I always, and I mean always, look for them after the rain, after the storm, because that is when they show up.
I am not the only one who likes a beautiful rainbow either. I mean as soon as a rainbow forms in the sky, everyone on social media is posting about it.
There is something awe-inspiring about them. There is a special kind of beauty about them. And there should be because it is a symbol of His promise. But so many times I don’t see them when I think I should. I prayed for a rainbow when in Rwanda, and I didn’t see it. I was in Texas a few weeks ago, and it was perfect rainbow weather, but one didn’t line the sky.
Sometimes we look for God’s promises in places that they won’t be found. I told my friend the other day, I want sunshine and rainbows, but God wants perserverence and obedience. And that is where the promise will hold true, because when you perservere, you find a hope that does not disappoint, you find joy through the trials, you find a love that doesn’t end. Jesus.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
I have written a couple times about an event that happened while I was in college (here, and here). It was an event that shattered me. And I wish I could say that I sought Him for healing right away, but I didn’t (that actually didn’t come for 10 years (so 10 years ago), although I thought it did). But the truth is that I looked for healing in places where I would never find it. I claimed healing, when I was broken.
If I was listening, I know with everything in me now that He would have been saying Prosper here, seek Me here… I am your Shelter, I am your Rock. In Me, you will find the promise that you have a hope and a future… even here. Yes, He would have said it. And it would have been true. But I wasn’t listening.
I guess I was like the Israelites that wanted a quick fix, in a place where God would have said Find Me here. I wanted the pain to go away, oh and I tried to make it go away. But the last thing I was, was obedient to the God I claimed to know.
I knew He could heal my desparately broken heart, but I was looking for that healing in places that were not the “shelter of His wing”, or “the Rock on which I would stand”. I wasn’t like the sick eagle, throwing myself on the highest rock as close as I could get to the sun, until I was well enough to fly again. I was seeking His promise in places apart from Him.
Where are you?
Are you in a place of brokenness? Are you in a place of exile? Are you running from Him? Or running to Him? Are you lost, and desparately wanting to be found?
Are you believing a false promise of a hope that will disappoint? Are you looking for His promises everywhere but where they will be found?
Beautiful one, these are His promises to you, if you cling to Him:
He hears the cry of the broken.
He will never abandon you.
You will seek Him, and find Him, when you seek Him with your whole heart.
You will be found, and He will bring you back from captivity.
Seek the peace in the place God has you, for in its peace, you will have peace.
Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
Those are the promises that you can find right where you are, here.