I was thinking about the Scripture verse on a sign I received recently as a gift:
“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 29:11Sometimes I wonder what God's plan is. Sometimes it seems like maybe his plan is not as good from my perspective as it is from His. Like maybe something that is a good thing in the grand scheme of His plan might just feel exactly like a disaster to me. Sometimes I think that maybe His plans are working out a bit more slowly than I want them to, you know? Ever feel that way?
So I looked up the chapter in my Logos software to remind myself of the circumstances surrounding this prophecy. I've read through Jeremiah before, but it's been a while, so I wanted to get a refresher. What I found surprised me a lot!
I had forgotten that Jeremiah was a prophet during the time that God's people were in exile from their homeland - they had been invaded, captured, and been deported to a foreign land. It was the ultimate disaster for them! Yet Jeremiah had a message of hope for them: God's plans for you are for good, not disaster.
Of course, Jeremiah had an additional message for them: settle in, boys, because you're going to be here for a while.
Jeremiah's message of hope was that God was going to redeem his people... later?
It certainly was. Let's read more of that chapter:
God's plan was for them to be in a seventy-year time out, and then He would miraculously rescue them. And we find out in the book of Daniel that that's exactly what happened! God rescued them exactly when He promised!
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare....For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:4–7, 10-11 (ESV)
Do you think the people wanted to live in exile for seventy years? Of course they didn't. But God's wisdom, His plan, was that things would happen at a certain time, and that was the right time.
Years ago I asked a man I knew had a lot of wisdom about the Word about a Scripture from Galatians:
There was something I was waiting on, and I wanted to know what "in due season" meant. He told me it was like the "due date" for a baby. You can know roughly what the right date is, and you can hope for a certain date, but in the end, the baby is going to be born at a time over which you have limited control. The baby is "due" at the right time. You may want him or her to be born three months after conception, so you can see his or her sweet little face, but that's not the right time. The right time is the "due" time.And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.- Galatians 6:9 (ESV)
Sometimes your and my idea of the right time for God to answer our prayers doesn't match up with His idea of the right time. In general, you shouldn't try to modify the due time for a baby, and in general, it's probably not a good idea to try to influence God's "due season" for your answer to prayer. It might take longer than you want it to, but when the right time comes, God's going to make sure it happens!