Why I Still Like Jeremiah 29:11
The other day my youngest child was in the car and wanted out. The snow-covered ground in the parking lot intimidated my cold little girl. I looked at her and reached out my arms and said something like this, “Baby girl daddy’s got ya! You will be just fine.”
Pretend we could fast-forward 80 years into the future. Say my little girl is now an elderly woman sitting in a doctor’s office and has just heard a bad medical report, her frail body slowly decaying like everyone of us will eventually face. Let’s say she sits in the room and decides to HATE her long deceased father because he didn’t fulfill his promise that she would be just fine.
Now that’s silly. No one would expect my specific promise in a specific situation to be used in all circumstances in her life. Yet we do this with God all the time.
There is no doubt one of the most abused scriptures in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11, “’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.’” From football teams using it to declare a future victory over an adversary to a prayer of victory over some sickness, this verse has covered the gamut of applications. All you Bible scholars will know that there are sections of scripture that were written to all people at all times and scripture written to a specific group of people for a specific reason. Jeremiah 29:11 is absolutely a situational specific verse. It was written to the Hebrew exiles out of Babylon promising they would one day receive God’s perfect peace, or “shalom” in their homeland. There weren’t any football players or cheerleaders on the receiving end of this promise. It also didn’t promise everyone in all of history would be healthy and live a long luxurious life according to the average American’s standards. Those who take specific Biblical promises and apply them to situations they were never intended to apply to could accidentally do an injustice and can cause great frustration when God appears to not fulfill the misused promise. I have had numerous conversations with people who have given up on God because he didn’t fulfill a promise they assumed for themselves as a result of unknowingly misusing Scripture.
So why do I still love Jeremiah 29:11? Even though it was written for a specific reason at a specific time, it declares the nature and heart of God! Ultimately it’s the heart of Christ the world needs, not a bunch of his followers chasing endlessly after material things or social positions. Let’s live the nature and heart of Christ! That’s a “future and hope” the world really needs.