Purpose in the Pain

Today in my Bible reading time I ran once again across Jeremiah 29. There’s a verse in this chapter that is quoted time and time again as a promise to those in pain:

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

The thing is, if you read this verse in light of the rest of chapters 28 and 29, the way it’s used in our Christian circles goes out the window. I wrote about this a while back after reading a book called Run with the Horses. God isn’t offering this promise just to console the people. He’s not telling them, “sit back and wait it out – I’ll rescue you soon.” In Jeremiah 28, a false prophet is PUT TO DEATH for offering a false hope that within a short while the nation would be rescued. Then, in Jeremiah 29, the direct context of this promise, God (through Jeremiah) directs the people to settle down in their exile, to go about life, to even pray for those who have taken them captive.

Most if not all of the generation Jeremiah is writing to will likely not see their redemption, for it is many years in the future. But they can prepare their children for it. They can pass along the promise of the Lord, they can continue living lives set apart to Him in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. They can pass along not only what God has promised to DO, but the very essense of WHO GOD IS, because all too often that’s what gets lost in times of disappointment and sorrow.

Let us not “forget to remember.” Let’s ensure that we’re retelling the story, no matter what our current circumstance, to those that follow us, and to ourselves. For it is in that remembering, that recounting, that reliving, that the truth of God’s promises is revealed, and his lovingkindness is truly shown to be everlasting.

Leave a Reply