For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, saith the Lord. – Jeremiah 29:11-14a
That lyrical, lovely promise from God has long been a favorite of mine, and probably yours as well. Each phrase is brimming with meaning.
Every time I read this Scripture, I am compelled to pause for a moment at the end of each line and mediate a bit on what it means to me.
Most recently, I came across this Scripture while reading through the book of Jeremiah. And you know what? I had never considered its context. You see, God gave this promise to the Israelites just after he told them they were to be captives in Babylon for seventy years.
For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. – Jeremiah 29:10
Jeremiah boldly and repeatedly stood alone in sharing this rather negative message from God (albeit with a positive conclusion): because of the Israelites’ sin, Nebuchadnezzar would sweep in and take the best of them captive, leaving just a few behind.
Other prophets disagreed with Jeremiah, insisting that the people were doing just fine as they were, and that God was still with them.
Of course, those prophets were wrong. Jeremiah’s prophecy came true, and the book of Daniel tells more of the story.
But in the midst of the delivery and fulfillment of that prophecy, God provided his people a bright promise and certain hope.
God’s ultimate plan for his beloved children was that they might attain peace, cleansing, and restoration to a relationship with him, through their time of chastisement in captivity.
And it’s his plan for us as well. When we undergo a difficult time – whether chastisement from God, or a terrible trial – we can cling to that promise.
God’s plans for us are good; and no matter what we are called to endure, if we seek him, we will find him. Though we may leave him, he never leaves us.