Hope in Exile

Jeremiah 29:11 “For 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.”

I’ve always loved this verse. I’m sure it’s a favorite for many people. It’s very reassuring that God does have a plan for each of us. We can have a hope, a future! Awesome! I’m in.
A few months back, I read a summary of this verse more in context, and since then I’ve thought a bit differently about it. Jeremiah the prophet passes these words on, from God, to the Jews in captivity. So, here are the Jews, God’s chosen people, that God has allowed to be taken away from their homeland and held captive by their enemy, not just for a stretch, but for 70 years. Keep in mind, their actions through the years certainly earned them this punishment, and much more. They were not faithful to God and repeatedly turned from Him, so it’s not an issue of fairness.
Still, I put myself in their shoes, since I am now adopted into God’s family, seen as one of His chosen people, and how I would struggle! In 70 years, many of the 3000 Jews would not see their rescue from the Babylonians. Some of the children would be born and die in captivity. The Jews must have received so much grief from the Babylonians, that their God had rejected them. They must’ve felt abandoned.
That’s where this verse comes in. Was it difficult to believe it at this point? Did they wonder what sort of plans exactly does God have? And how is this situation prospering? This captivity has hope in the future? Really?
Yet it can be very encouraging. When we are in a difficult, even impossible, place, we still know God is in charge. For whatever reason this difficult stretch is necessary, but God does have good plans for His children, plans to prosper us. As grim and lengthy as a trial is, we can trust God. Even if we are born into a trial, live our whole lives in it, and then die without seeing a change… God is good and faithful.

I love the verses right after this one, too. Seek God with our whole hearts, call upon Him, pray to Him….and we will find Him He says. Not that the difficulty is magically over or the time of exile is done. But, we will know Him and He will listen to our pleas. He will be found. There will be an end to that exile, whether you live to see it or not.
It’s our relationship with our amazing God that gives us hope and a future. We can know we are absolutely loved, have worth, purpose and help regardless of how great or horrible our circumstances seem. It’s great when life is happy and easy and fun. And some people’s lives do seem to be mostly those things. But we don’t know and can’t see God’s plans. You are where you are for a reason, as am I. We can know God better, trust Him more, find our absolute satisfaction in Him regardless. This life seems endless at times, but in reality it’s only a little inch on an endless ruler called forever. God will help us get through it and if we allow Him to, find a lot of joy and peace as we do.


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