Theology Thursday: A cliche but oh so true
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” — Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
By Chris Jennings
GCU Life Leader Coordinator
When I read this I instantly think, “What a cliché Bible verse!” This Old Testament reference has been stamped on everything from Christian coffee mugs to your grandma’s favorite embroidered throw pillow.
But Christian clichés are clichés for a reason. Although they might seem overused or corny to some, they usually stem from deep truths that upon further study can reveal the depths of God’s heart.
This verse is found smack dab in the middle of a letter written by the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelite people, who recently had been taken captive by the Babylonian Empire. Their situation was heartbreaking. They were surrounded by darkness and forced into an environment that directly contradicted their deeply held religious convictions and way of life.
The exile chipped away at their hope as they struggled to see God’s plan in the midst of their tragedy. However, when all seemed hopeless, Jeremiah delivered an encouraging word from the Lord:
“This is what the Lord says: ‘When 70 years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to (Israel). For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’”
Just when the Israelites felt forgotten and abandoned by God, He swiftly reassured them of his promises, encouraging them to hold fast to their faith. He never promised that their journey would be easy. Instead, He gave them hope that even in their darkest moments, He would never leave them.
Let’s face it, most of us haven’t been taken captive by an evil empire, and we most likely never will. But there’s no doubt that we all experience dark seasons in our lives.
Whether it’s the despair of a loved one’s death or the simple annoyance of a flat tire on the freeway, difficulty is an inevitable part of the human experience. In moments such as these, it is challenging to see God’s plan.
But what’s beautiful about this story is that God actually came through on his promise! After the 70 years were complete, he delivered his people from the exile and they returned to their promised land. Although their journey was long, God never gave up on his people.
We serve that same God today, the One who loves and fights for His people, the One who never leaves or forsakes those who love Him. He is always faithful and true to His promises, and even though facing the challenges of life is never easy, we know that we can lean upon the Father, trusting that He is with us every step of the way.
In the midst of heartache, we might not understand the complexity of God’s plan, but we can look to this cliché Bible verse to remind us of the depth of His faithfulness and love.