27 May 2021
“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).
We have considered Isaiah 40 and noted the prophecy and writings of this great prophet. We saw how, in the face of the threat from Babylon, Isaiah assured the people that God was still in control and would bring a turn-around for the nation Israel, and the exile would surely return. We saw also how God declared His sovereignty, HIs might and transcendence and that He would bring the princes and rulers to nought. Further we noted the hope that God would reign in the whole world beyond the borders of Israel when He brings history to an end, and manifests His glory universally.
We now consider the writings of another great prophet, Jeremiah, particularly verse 11 of Jeremiah 29. Here Jeremiah was addressing the deported Jews in Babylon. The deported Jews must have felt discouraged and disillusioned; Jerusalem and the temple had been ‘destroyed’ and they felt it impossible to even sing the song of Zion in a foreign land. In the midst of their ‘sorrow’ Jeremiah sent the message to them, assuring them that the Lord had not abandoned them. Even though they had been exiled because of their disobedience and the breaking of God’s covenant, God still cares for them and this temporary setback is in fact ‘discipline’ from God because of His love for them.
In the New Living Translation, it reads:
“As long as God, who knows the future, provides our agenda and goes with us as we fulfill his mission, we can have boundless hope. This does not mean that we shall be spared pain, suffering and hardship, but it does mean that God will see us through to a glorious conclusion.”
This is how life looks and feels when we learn to live by faith in the sovereign God;even when we encounter ‘struggles’ and ‘setbacks’, sometimes because of our own failures, sometimes because of the ‘attacks’ of the evil one and at times because of the wickedness of men (unbelievers and even so-called believers). We can still rest assured that God is still in control, and He still loves us and intends to bring us through the ‘difficulties’ by correcting our perspectives and enabling us to persevere to fulfill His plans for our lives and for His glory.
His plan and agenda is to lead us from where we are into fullness of fellowship and perfection of life with Himself, and to draw out of us the cooperation with Him and to work in us a humble heart, a holy hope and godliness, and a likeness to Himself. God’s love for us is always for goodness and wholeness, and not for evil. Even in times of perplexity and ‘struggles’, know for sure that God still loves His people and He would work through these difficulties to bring about what is good and glorious.
“All my times are in thy hand, All of events at thy command.
…He that formed me in the womb, He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be, ordered by HIs wise decree.
Times of sickness, times of health, Times of penury and wealth,
Times of trial and of grief, Times of triumph and relief;…
…Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till He bids, I cannot die,
Not a single shaft can hit
Till the love of God sees fit.”
Excerpts from John Ryland’s lyric fully justify the meaning of trusting and resting in God and His sovereignty, despite the contrasting circumstances that we may face in our lives as His children. The prophets of old, Isaiah and Jeremiah, have much to teach us regarding trusting and resting in God in our pilgrimage on earth.