Plans to Prosper: Decoding Jeremiah 29:11 in 2021

Good Afternoon Fan Friends,

2020 gave me a lot of time to think, which is both a blessing and a curse. The human mind is an exceedingly complicated thing-it can inspire creativity or it can cultivate fear which results in crippling anxiety. As a Christian, many of us turn to things like Bible study to make sense of words written over thousands of years ago. Knowing God is with us truly is balm on a chapped soul bitter and cold from the state of the world around us.

Even after the 2020 election had passed there was still so much debate politically as well as civil and social unrest. As Christians, many of us feel the damned if we do and damned if we don’t sense of dread when talking with our friends, family and colleagues. This mentality translates and transcends into our day to day with regards to speaking up on our thoughts and feelings.

2020 allowed me to really sit and ponder the Bible, searching for God in words his disciples wrote down has given me a sense of peace. It is important for me to speak about my faith, for me this is a huge part of who I am as a person. The passage today which I hope to help you understand a bit better comes from Jermiah; the verse being 29:11 which states…

“‘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, New International Version.

If we take this verse at face value, it means that God has a plan for all of us, right? Yes and no. There’s often a tremendous sense of misconception shrouding this biblical verse and one of them them is: God has a specific “plan” for each individual.

See, God gave us this thing called “free will” that means that God lets people choose for themselves the course they will follow. Sure, he has a “plan” for all of us but we have the choice whether or not we live up to that plan. His words at Jeremiah 29:11 were addressed to the Israelites in Babylon as a group, and he had a thought in mind for that group—a future of peace. (Jeremiah 29:4) However, God allowed each person to choose whether to benefit from His promise or not. (This is highlighted in Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; Jeremiah 29:32). God also calls us to seek him by praying to him with a sincere heart (as highlighted in Jeremiah 29:12, 13) but he will never force us to have that relationship with him. Free will allows us to CHOOSE God or not-God is always there waiting for us to embrace HIS plan for us but we gotta shed the skin of sin and put our love and trust in him alone in order to achieve this plan.

What does this plan mean for us today? It means that God’s plan involves each of us being the very best versions of ourselves and choosing to love and have faith in God’s plan rather than sin and rely on the ways of the world for personal fulfillment. God loves us and wants a relationship with all of us, even if we turn from him, free will prevents HIM from interfering with our right to choice unless we will it. Let me reiterate: we gotta chose to let God in to see his miraculous ways at work in our life and we MUST be sincere about it.

Another misconception in this passage is that it’s taken to mean that God will prosper his worshippers with material riches. This is NOT the case in the literal sense of the word, the word “prosper” found in some Bibles at Jeremiah 29:11 is actually translated from a Hebrew word that means “peace, health, and well-being.” Meaning you won’t get riches in the literal sense of angels coming upon you and giving you the next winning lottery numbers but you WILL be rich in ways that include the peace of mind in knowing whatever challenges you may face; you never face them alone for God is ALWAYS with you. In fact, if we look to the context this line is given, God promised to give the exiled Israelites not wealth but peace and welfare. They were promised that would continue to exist as a people and would one day return to Jerusalem-which was their ultimate goal.

This verse is, in a way, amplified in Proverbs 16:9 which states: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Which essentially means yes, you yourself plan your own way here on Earth but in order to get there God is asking you to simply put your trust in Him. God calls to us everyday as if to say: “If this is your way, if this is what will truly fulfill you on Earth trust me that I will make it okay in the long run, that I will be with you and guide you on your journey.” God offers us, freely and with no reservations, this promise to be with us. This selfless love is there to light our way in the darkness that can surround us here. All we have to do is let Him in…

What do you think this verse truly means? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!

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