“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.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
If you’ve been a Christ follower for any amount of time, or have ever questioned your destiny in front of a Christian, chances are you’ve heard this verse or memorized it, claimed it, plastered it in our mirror or wall. Perhaps you carry it in your wallet for those desperate moments of uncertainty. It’s the kind of verse that sticks in your mind and you don’t necessarily pull it out on a regular basis, but when the going gets tough and you feel anxious about the future, BAM! The promise is there. “God has a plan for me…” And not just any old plan, a good plan.
He plans to make you prosperous…
2. Bringing wealth and success.
Could this verse be misinterpreted? Could we resolve that if God doesn’t provide the financial freedom that we so desire as Americans, then perhaps his promise fails us? The Bible has plenty of translations, making it’s interpretation difficult at times especially when there is an emotion attached to it. See, if I were wrestling with God over a financial matter, I might read this verse and lay the matter to rest…that is until my financial matter didn’t resolve itself. So, as a student of God’s Word, I am inclined to dig a little deeper.
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (NASB)
Ah, “welfare”, not just material security. Now the sky’s the limit on the definition of welfare. But by it’s very basic definition, I am convinced that God intends to protect me and keep me faring-well! The Greek Lexicon describes the original word, Euodoo, as:
- to grant a prosperous and expeditious journey, to lead by a direct and easy way
- to grant a successful issue, to cause to prosper
- to prosper, be successful
Now that it’s settled that God isn’t simply the giver of material wealth, I’m eager to understand what this promise for a future and hope are all about.
Just like I would like to believe that God’s promise for my prosperity means that he’ll bless me with lots of material things, I would also like to go on believing that His promise for a future means that he’ll grant me my wish for whatever I want for my future. But indeed, my best understanding of the original text is that by promising a “future” (Mello is the Greek word) I am confident that he “has intentions” for me and that God has me “in mind” in his consideration of the future.
Why is this not as comforting as the belief that he will grant me the future that I desire?
Perhaps that is what the Psalmist was thinking when he God inspired these words:
3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
I wrestle with God regularly about what I am supposed to do with my future. My interaction with God on this subject derives from different places in my heart depending on my life circumstance. I am most uncomfortable wrestling with God, however, when the subject of my future revolves around money and material things. I confess that’s where I’ve been lately. As I prepare to have all three of my kids in school full time, I find myself wondering if I should be going back to work or what! I have lots of emotions about this, but suffice it to say that God and I are in regular communication about it. Hence the dissected passage of scripture.
Thank you God for your truth. Thank you for your promise to have me in mind always. Please grant me discernment as I discover your plan for my life.