Monday, September 21, 2015
I have a future and a hope, whether you do or not
This is a verse that has given me hope and a much needed boost many times in my life. There were times I was so deep in depression and discouragement that I read this "out of context" verse every night for weeks.
I tend to read a lot from the New Living Translation and the Holman Christian Standard Bible. They render the verse like this:
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (NLT)
For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (HCSB)
OK, so does God not know the plans He has for ME? Of course He knows the plans He has for me.
Are the plans He has for me not good? Are they for my disaster? Of course His plans are good for me and not for disaster. Bad things may happen to me, but as a Christian I believe He knows what is best and will work good out of bad.
Does God not want to give me a future and hope? Dumb question. Of course God wants to give me a future and hope.
So then why is this verse a problem for so many people? Granted, some verses render the verse that God wants to prosper, but even then I don't take the Joel Osteen approach, but I tend to think of spiritually, not financial, but I rarely read a version that renders it prosper, so that isn't an issue for me.
But then these people bring up context, and talk about the verses that follow this:
12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
If we pray, He will listen. I don't think that applied to just Israel. It applies to all of us.
If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Hmm, that sounds like it would apply to us today also.
Ah, verse 14 could be a problem. "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes." Well, that part of the verse has actually given me hope also for reasons I won't go into here. And you could even spiritualize the last part of the verse, "I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
A person can easily get carried away going through the Bible discarding verses that they don't believe apply to us today, but were only speaking to a specific people of that time. People do it with the verse that says it is a shame for a man to have long hair. That is one argument the pro-gay theology people use.... male prostitution was a problem at the time the New Testament verses were written saying homosexuality is a sin. We scoff at those who say that, yet we should be careful to not do the same with other verses.
The Bible says all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness. That includes Jeremiah 29:11.
There are promises throughout the Bible, who though some may claim were aimed at a certain people, can be examined and still apply for us today because of God's character and His promise that He doesn't change. If He promised the Israelites that He had a plan for them, a future, and a hope.... then that same God can do the same for us today.
If there are those who disagree, let them disagree and leave me alone. The verse has given me and countless other Christians hope down through the ages. And we all need hope.