Many of you have heard Jeremiah 29:11 quoted to you, seen it on a coffee mug or on a pretty poster on Pinterest. “‘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 hear many Christians pray, when faced with a crossroads, “Lord, close the door if it’s not Your will.” In other words, “Lord, I really want to know Your will. Stop me if I’m wrong and bless me if I’m right.” It's kind of like covering your bases, don't you think, like we prayed that prayer so now we can proceed and no harm should come. I've done it too, but God is not obligated to stop you or me from making a mistake!
Actually, this verse isn't about us at all.
Jeremiah was speaking to Israel in this passage and they are in exile under the Babylonians. This means they were seized from their homes, ripped from their families, and exported to Babylon. If you read a little before, you understand right away that this verse is not for individuals making difficult decisions. This verse was Jeremiah writing the people and letting them know that God has not forgotten them; that he sees their pain. This verse is not about God giving us prosperity if we live in the plans God has for us. The problem is God did not promise us prosperity. God never promised you a life that would be easy. You will face difficulty: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the
world.” (John 16:33, NIV)
However, God did promise to
discipline us, to refine us, to grow us in our faith. "Endure trials for the
sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is
there whom a parent does not discipline?" (Hebrews 12:7, NRSV)
I do believe God has a plan for our lives.
It's pretty simple. God’s plan is for us to be in relationship with him. Jesus said that the greatest commandment of all is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind…and the second is like it:
Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34-40). Jesus didn’t die to make you happy and successful. He died so you can be in relationship with him. If you want to know God's plan for you, love God by loving your neighbor, love those that talk bad about you, love those that are most difficult to love. Love your coworker who cheats, respect your boss when no one else does, love your spouse the way Christ loves us and let your marriage be one of grace and self sacrifice. Take care of his orphans and widows. Doing these things sets us apart and that is God's plan. Followers of Jesus—this is our path.