Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jeremiah 29:11

In our house we have a picture frame with a few verses and several pictures from our wedding day. One of the verses in the picture frame is Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV) Other translations of this verse say that the Lord promises “to prosper you and not to harm you.” (NIV)

It seems that this verse is often used in the context of peace, prosperity and happiness (such as at our wedding). But the context of this verse suggests that the verse is more applicable to our situation now, following Micah’s death.

The book of Jeremiah is about God’s calling the nation of Israel away from its idolatrous ways. Despite the repeated efforts by the prophet Jeremiah to call the nation back to God, the nation trusted in its own strength. Jeremiah prophesied that the nation would eventually come to ruin. Indeed, we see that the nation was eventually destroyed, and much of the nation taken into captivity. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus says the Lord, a voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

Before Micah died, I would have told you that I don’t believe in the so-called “prosperity gospel,” the idea that those of us who are followers of Christ are not only spiritually blessed by reason of our being Christ’s disciples, but financially blessed as well. But as I reflect upon my own heart, I realize that there has been this sense that I have been waiting for “my ship to come in.” If God is in control of our universe, and if I seek to magnify him above all else, why wouldn’t he want to prosper us? Why wouldn’t he want to give us many healthy children? We wouldn’t he give us the desires of our hearts?

But God has made it abundantly clear that he is not prospering us, as we think of the term “prospering.” Our lives are living proof of the bankruptcy of the prosperity gospel as a human-centered misinterpretation of what it means for God to “prosper us.”

The promise given to the nation of Israel in 29:11 is equally true for us today. As the nation of Israel can attest to, it was not a promise that members of that nation would not go through pestilence, famine, war, enslavement and death. But God promised that He would comfort them through His new covenant with them (Jeremiah 31:31). Jeremiah 31:13 says, “I will turn their mourning into joy—I will comfort and give them gladness for sorrow.”As it relates to my relationship with Micah—there is now no joy, and there can be no joy, on this side of eternity. My only hope for the prosperity promised by the words of the prophet Jeremiah is to wake on the mourning of that eternal day to the faces of my Savior and my son. After our long night of weeping is over, joy will at last come in the morning. Psalm 30:5.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had more answers. Praying for your emptiness to be filled up with His love today.