“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)
By now the excitement that heralded the start of the year has waned. The hopes and aspirations of the new year for many is beginning to look bleak and the future looks so uncertain. It is back to the daily grind and the harsh reality of today.
For many, the year did not start on a good note – it was not the way they would have wished to start the year. In Somerset, South West England, it has been a devastation caused by floods. Homes and businesses have been under water for weeks, causing people to evacuate their homes and sources of livelihood.
For many others, it has been the loss of a loved one or source of income. It does not really look like the happy new year that many wished.
In the midst of all the sad news however, I hear a quiet voice saying, ‘I have a plan for you’. Yes, God has a plan for you! His plan is to give you a hope and a future! (Jeremiah 29:11)
God sent this message to the Jews at a time of untold hardship. They were living as a captives in a strange land, living with strange people who had strange customs and served strange gods. The Jews were homesick and despaired for the future. They were about to give up hope.
At a time they least expected, God showed up. He told them, ‘Listen, I have got a plan for you!’ Looking around them and taking stock of their situation; that would have been a hard thing for them to take in. I can imagine them asking, ‘How can God have a plan for us in this place? We don’t even have an identity anymore!’
That sounds like a lot of folk today. It is tough looking at your bank statement with its overdrawn balance and believe God has a plan for you, especially a plan to make you debt free.
It is tough to believe God has a plan for you when you have just been diagnosed with a terminal illness pushing you to the brink of despair. As tough as it may be, God’s word remains true and real, He has got a plan for you!
I know the plans I have for you – There is certainty in this statement. God not only has a plan for you, He knows every little detail of your life and how His plan would impact your life positively. We often make plans and change those plans when situations change. This is why businesses often have contingency plans - an alternate option if all else fails.
God does not make contingency plans – He is all-knowing. When He says I have a plan for you, He knows that the plan will work out as He has designed it to be.
What is God’s Plan for you? To prosper you and not to harm you. It is part of God’s plan to prosper you. Let us pause here and examine what prosperity is or rather, what is scriptural prosperity?
There has been a lot of controversy in the church about the topic of prosperity with some groups leaning towards opposite extremes. I have seen some practices as well that made me quite uncomfortable in some fellowships and I believe we need to understand what it means for us to prosper so that we can expect it from God without reservation.
Scriptural prosperity means being blessed by God. A part of that package is financial blessing but it is not limited to it. It is unfortunate that today the gospel of prosperity exclusively preaches financial blessings with all kinds of burden being placed on people to give financially, not from a willing and happy heart but being compelled to give so that they can be blessed.
I personally believe God can bless a person without making the person wealthy. It is a reality that not many people can handle wealth beyond a certain degree. God knows this and because when He blesses, He does not add sorrow to it, He knows how to bless such people without giving them the burden of managing wealth beyond their ability.
God does not intend for us to live in poverty, He also knows the risks inherent in immense wealth ( Rev 3:14-19) so He gives us what we need and also makes allowances for us to meet the needs of others. Where we have the grace to manage wealth to a higher degree, He will not withhold it from us.
God does not intend to harm you – Some of the situations we are facing today may be as a result of choices we made. In cases where they are not, God is aware of the situation but has allowed that situation to enable us learn some lessons that will be invaluable to us as He takes us through it.
We will not learn when we spend the time grumbling or complaining. As we pray about the situation and become attentive to Him as well as observing the things happening around us, God will guide us in the way we should go.
Plans to give you a hope and a future – A man without hope is a man without a future. God’s plan is to give you a hope and a future. One common denominator of people who survive life-threatening circumstances has been the presence of hope.
No matter how the year has started for you, no matter how you feel right now, God’s promise rings true, ‘I have plans for you…’.
Always remember that…and do not lose hope.