Devotion #98

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.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

So many of us grow restless with our current trial. We pray and we pray for God to bring a change, and then we wait, wondering when it’s going to happen. Scripture tells us if we pray and we wait, He will answer our prayers. Some of us are praying and waiting for financial relief from the recent economic changes, some of us are praying for a few moments of peace in a chaotic household. Some of our hearts are aching for our spouses to surrender their lives to Jesus, some of us are praying that He heal our land, some of us are praying for freedom from this slavery. We pray and we pray fervently for these things, then we watch for signs that He’s answering. We’ve even grown to the place where we can proclaim boldly that God will do things—we have the confidence; we are trusting and we are waiting. But then there’s nothing. Why isn’t He answering our prayer?

My heart is heavy to see some changes in my trials, and I have wept at God’s lack of response. It seems whenever I end up in this place, He leads me to Jeremiah 29.

There is such powerful teaching for me in this passage. Though the focus of Jeremiah 29:11 is familiar to many, it’s important that we set the context for why God said these things to the Israelites to fully understand and apply His words to our life. In the verses that come just before the well-known Jeremiah 29:11, the Israelites had been fervently praying to God to rescue them from their exile in Babylon. They had been in captivity for generations, desperately waiting for the word from Jeremiah that God was indeed coming to rescue them from their difficult trial—and soon.

But the word didn’t come that He would bring them home, the word came for them to stay. Not just stay, but set up shop there—build houses, plant farms, have families. In Babylon! Their plans were for God to rescue them from slavery in Babylon, but God gave them long-term plans in Babylon instead. He had no plans to rescue them for quite some time. Why would God tell them to stay in Bablylon? The Creator of the heavens and the earth surely had the power to rescue them from captivity and return them home, but He didn’t. Why would He say no? Because His plans for their future and their hope was right where they were. God told them to stay because He had something in the trial for them. His plans for a good future included the refining work that would take place by them staying in the trial.

I remember the first time I received this teaching, it landed on my heart like a ton of bricks. We pray and we pray for God to rescue us from our trials, for Him to just work everything out the way we want Him to…but sometimes He allows us to sit in our trials for a while. Why? Because the plans for our good future includes the refining work that’s taking place in that trial.

Stay in your trials if that’s where He has you. Though God has the power to heal our land or your marriage in this moment, He has chosen to keep you exactly where you are for right now. As you pray and wait expectantly for rescue, look for what He has for you in the trial. Allow Him to refine you by revealing your deficiencies to you, confess and submit those weaknesses to God—that’s where we will find freedom from whatever keeps us in captivity.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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