“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
It’s a beautiful verse. Many people look to it for confirmation of better things to come when going through something difficult. So…here’s the thing — I think we’ve misunderstood the context of that verse because we don’t read the verses surrounding it. In essence, the beginning of Jeremiah 29 is a message to Jerusalem (God’s people). But more than that? It’s a reminder. Jeremiah 29 not only contains messages of joy, peace, and comfort.
It’s instruction of the highest order – it’s God reminding his people of the agreement they made in following him. So let’s talk the key points of these verses, shall we?
I. Prosper Where God Places You
At this time, God’s people were in a foreign place & captivity. The Elders at the time knew WHY they were there (God made it pretty clear) & knew eventually they’d be in a better place. Even in knowing they’d be in a “lower” position socially, God still gave a very clear instruction – THRIVE. They were commanded to live “as if” they had never lost their position as God’s favored. The reality is they hadn’t lost favor even though circumstances suggested they had.
That’s the thing about life. Difficult circumstances manage to convince us that we aren’t worth our weight in gold. Life will suggest we don’t matter. Complicated relationships will blur our vision on who we truly are.
And that’s where we start to ask, “Well, what’s the point?”
The point is that our lives – and who we are really – are our callings and we are to serve God (your Creator as you know of them) even in the most humbling positions. It’s tough but that’s…just how the cookie crumbles.
Live even when you don’t seem to count. Thrive anyhow.
II. There’s No Such Thing as an Unknown Place
Life doesn’t present unexpected circumstances. It’s a series of transactions that follow the formula of “If I do A, then B is a possibility.”
What makes circumstances seem unexpected is that we never expect the worst to happen. We like to bet on the best thing while saying we’ll be ok with just the good. We go through life unfairly using grace, mercy, love, & forgiveness as tools to manipulate people/things to work in our favor. It’s an ugly truth to swallow (I’ve been sitting on this admission for weeks). We apologize with the hope it’s enough to not be held responsible for our behaviors. We pray with hope that a miracle shows up to get out of trouble we shouldn’t be in.
Here’s the thing – accountability matters and you can’t grow to who you are supposed to be running from it. The thing about true, authentic, and actual accountability is that it takes place in parts.
First? You know better. Then? You do better. Finally? You teach what’s better.
This is why you see generationS (plural) of God’s people in captivity. The separation was intentional. The question being asked of you when you’re the foreigner is: “Do you confirm what’s in your spirit or conform to what’s around you?”
Being an outsider tests your commitment to promises you make because it’s easy to get caught up in what the ppl around you do. Not only that but when you’re the “Odd One Out,” your behavior is easier to spot. What you do “right” stands out just as much as what you do “wrong.” And when you stand out? You find yourself explaining why you do things differently more than you’d like.
III. Acceptance (Actual Acceptance) is a Part of Obedience
This is something I struggle with but there is something to be said about the freedom that comes with saying, “This is where I am. This is what my life is. Okay.”
Acceptance is “Let your will be done.” in action. Acceptance is present-tense. The blessing in actual acceptance is that you live in a space of who I am now isn’t who I used to be or who I’m growing to be. It’s acknowledging everything about yourself and striving towards better anyhow. Authentic acceptance is what allows you to accept the blessings that come your way even when you feel you aren’t deserving (because 9/10, you know you could have done things with more care and concern than you wanted to have at any given moment).
And it’s THAT kind of acceptance God (cosmic laws in general) wants us to approach living purposefully with. When you aren’t accepting, you start to list out the things you thought you were supposed to have & the timeline you expected it.
Why be determined to live a life outside of God’s promise for you?
Stop questioning the good stuff because you’re focused on your (un)worthiness. There is no way to fulfill your purpose here when you decide to postpone or refuse blessings God has promised you.