PASSAGE: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
COMMENT: This powerful and affirming passage is a part of a letter Jeremiah writes to the exiles in Babylon—the Hebrews who have been taken from their own land and are now living in a foreign place. Some of their leaders are focusing on the shock of the situation, and agonizing over what might lie ahead, and how they can get back to their old places. Jeremiah sees it differently, and his advice is radically at odds with what others are saying.
Jeremiah’s advice is, in essence, to fully embrace the new situation. Stop wailing and bemoaning, and set about making a life. “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they 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” (Jer. 29:5-6). God is with them wherever they are, the prophet insists, and God can do a great work through them in Babylon.
"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me” (Jer. 29:11-13).
It’s a strong lesson for us today, isn’t it? We so often find ourselves wishing we were some place else—in physical location, or in consciousness, or in terms of health or abundance. We spend time and waste energy trying to figure out how to get back to where we were. The truth is that God is with us, present within us, no matter where we are. And there is a great potential for good—for future and hope—wherever we are. If we choose to go to our hearts, embrace the Christ Presence we find there, and ask that God be revealed exactly where we are, then we can create wonderful good in the moment. And when the time comes to move elsewhere, God will show us the way and the time.