Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite verse of many, though one that is not often read in context.
Stampin' Sisters in Christ is a blog I had heard of some time back, but never had time to really “explore.” A link from one blog to another led to my happy rediscovery of it this week. It really caught my attention because of the theme of their weekly challenge, Jeremiah 29:11. Our church is on rotation with other churches for Sunday services at the local jail, and a few weeks it was my turn to share with the women. I must have said something about God’s plans for us, and a young woman burst out in anger, “I used to go to church, but they were always talking about God’s plan for my life and I just don’t get that! I’m here in jail and I sure don’t see God’s plan in this!” Most people when they think of this verse see it as a promise to each of us individually that God has happy, wonderful things in store for us right around the corner. But it’s always important to read the Word in its original context. Jesus tells us he came to give us abundant life, and Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” so it’s not necessarily wrong to use Jeremiah 29:11 this way, but for people like my young friend in jail (who was released, then did something else to land her back there, possibly for a serious amount of time), it can be a source of great distress and bitterness.
If we look at the context of the verse, we see that God was not speaking to individuals, but to the captive people of Judah. The people of God had sinned themselves into exile, had been banished from their beloved Jerusalem, and were living under Babylonian rule. The pronouncement of Jeremiah 29:11 is that “when seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place (Jeremiah 29:10). Seventy years! For those that were old enough to comprehend this message, they were essentially being told that after nearly all of them had died, then they would they realize that future and hope! Furthermore, God tells them that while they are in captivity, they are to make a good life for themselves! They are to marry, have children, build houses, and be at peace in their captivity! And while in that state, they are even to pray for the prosperity of the very city holding them captive! Wow … a very different concept than the one we are led to consider when reading this verse apart from its original setting and purpose! Is it not equally inspiring to read this in context? Earth is not the Christian’s true home, but we are called to engage with the culture, praying for those who make life difficult for us, with the confidence that one day, God will lead us home!
Stamp is from Biblical Impressions, found in both the "verses" section, which I used for this card, and as a bookmark stamp as well. It also is available from Eureka. In fact, for some reason, when I mentally composed this card a few days ago, it was the Eureka stamp I envisioned, which to my surprise I do not even own, so I had to refigure it for this challenge. So, having not had a chance to create until this afternoon, I made a much simpler card than I had anticipated, lol! I usually conceal the prongs of the brads under layers of cardstock, but I did not do that for this card, wanting to be able to remove the flower embellishment if this ends up being sent to a male recipient. :-)