Another Word…by Gus Keiser

April 9, 2018

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

                                                                                                                        Jeremiah 29:11

 It shares the number eight on the regular part of your computer keyboard. It’s the asterisk (*).  Asterisks indicate that additional information has been omitted from the text, or at times, that the information given needs to be qualified in some way.  When you see an asterisk attached to a word or phrase, you search to find the additional information so you can learn the “rest of the story”.

However, when it comes to communicating truths about the Christian life, the need for asterisks is everywhere. Let’s use today’s Scripture text as an example.  This passage is often used to offer encouragement and hope to those who are experiencing crisis, or trial and difficulty in life.  It’s a wonderful passage, with a message that is so true!

Yet, there’s still need for the use of an asterisk here if we just leave the message isolated to verse eleven. Looking at the entire twenty-ninth chapter of Jeremiah, the context of verse 11 practically jumps off the page.  It’s part of a letter Jeremiah wrote to captives in Judah who had been uprooted from their homes and taken as captives to Babylon.  Jeremiah tells them to put down roots in Babylon, to pray and work for peace and prosperity.  This statement is followed by a statement that can be paraphrased along these lines of  “Oh, and by the way, you’re going to be captives here for seventy years and God says that after that he’ll bring you back home again,”  Then comes verse eleven: “I know the plans I have for you…”

 For the vast majority of people who would have heard or read this message of the letter, the bottom line was that they would live and die as captives in a foreign land. I can only imagine that many of them wondered how God could possibly consider this to be a good plan.

Still, it is what God said. What he offered them here was just a longer-term view: God’s good plans for a future and hope were more for the generation that would follow after the exiles and less for the individuals who read the letter.

Many of us live out our lives in a similar context. We face crises, difficulties and trials that we don’t understand.  We wonder what we’ve done to deserve them.  Sometimes, we can’t resolve them; so we begin to question God, asking him why he allows us to live through a season or lifetime of challenges.  And he directs us back to verse eleven…”I know the plans I have for you…”

 Although we may never see our life situations change drastically, how we respond to our challenges (remaining faithful to God and trusting him day-to-day) matters! If we believe in the message of Jeremiah 29:11, we’ll persevere despite the challenges, and we’ll influence those who will follow after us, for it will be they who will ultimately reap the benefits of receiving the future and hope that God promises

I think I can handle that. How about you?

Patient God…ours is not to question why. Ours is to trust you with our lives.  Teach us patience Lord.  Amen.

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