“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
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
hope and a future
Christians often read, quote, and share this scripture when they want to encourage someone starting a new venture, like graduating, starting a business, or to deepen someone’s faith.
It’s not wrong to do that, but by taking the verse out of context, we miss much of the richness and the true inspiration of the passage.
Earlier in the book of Jeremiah we learn that the people he was writing to were enslaved people, who were refugees from their native country; not just refugees, but exiles. Life was tough; it had been for a long time, and would be for a long time more. This is what had been done to them.
” I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin.
I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp.
This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”Jeremiah 25
Now I am certainly not suggesting God sent COVID to us now as punishment or as a divine object lesson. We all know life is not perfect, bad things happen to everyone. But the way we look at our difficulties and what we do with them makes the difference.
What a Bible scholar says
I’m not a Bible scholar but my friend Jeremy is. He wrote this commentary on Jeremiah 19:11 which he generously shared with me and you.
“This is one of the most misused verses in the Bible, but the comfort this verse offers is far deeper than the out of context promise often given to graduates.
This was a specific promise given to specific people as opposed to a universal promise to mankind, and it was made to them while God was destroying their nation, tearing down the Temple, and sending the people into 70 years of captivity in a foreign land.
Families were torn apart, people were enslaved; those left behind in a desolate homeland struggled to survive starvation. This was the setting of the promise.
But the promise God gave them was- no matter how bad things were about to get, God had a plan and He would not abandon them forever.
The same God who promised Israel their suffering would end, and they would come into a brighter future because of the refining they would experience, is the same God who brings us into the covenant promises. No matter what fire we are in, if it is the Lord’s chastisement we are enduring, God will bring us into a better future if we allow the fire to purify us.
When you feel like giving up, endure. These people suffered for 70 years to receive this promise, so we can endure whatever length we must as well. ”
You can read the entire chapter here –Jeremiah 29
written by Jeremy Scott Wilson, B.A., Biblical and Theological Studies; M.A., Theological Studies and Church History. Jeremy occasionally blogs at Awakening to basics .
exploring the HEART of faith, hope, and love
a desolate waste
Dr. Jonathan Weinkle, author of Healing People, Not Patients , referenced Jeremiah in a recent blog post about the COVID-19 pandemic.
All we can do is keep breathing. Breathing in the desolate waste, hoping it will again be tilled one day.
The conditions for that tilling, however, are faith, repentance, and repair. We don’t get to just decide to go back and till the desolate waste and expect crops to sprout abundantly. We have to work for it.
Another prophet, Jeremiah, predicted, as the Jews were still in the process of being exiled from the land by the Babylonians, “Houses, vineyards and fields will again be purchased in this land.” But he meant seventy years thence, not the next day. Things had to happen, conditions had to change, before that could happen.Dr. Weinkle
Read his post at