8 February 2022
Today, I am 73 years old and as I spent my time this morning with our gracious Lord and God, He brought my attention again to the verse in Jeremiah 29. This is the verse I read some 46 years ago on my wedding day, the wonderful day God joined my beloved wife and me in holy matrimony.
“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).
The New living Translation puts it in this manner:
“As long as God, who knows the future, provides our agenda and goes with us as we fulfil His mission, we can have boundless hope. This does not mean that we shall be spared pain, suffering, or hardship, but it does mean that God will see us through to a glorious conclusion.”
I take this opportunity to testify of God’s goodness and sovereignty and I believe this is true for all those who have had the privilege to come to Him by faith in repentance and be regenerated as His children. Before our wedding, my wife and I had prayerfully committed our lives to God and to serve Him as long as He sees it fit, and as He enables. We both do not know what the future holds but indeed, we can testify that Jeremiah 29:11 holds true for us and surely for all those who know Him and seek to serve Him, even though we may be weak and powerless in ourselves. It is God who knows the future and holds the future; He is the One who goes with us if we desire sincerely to serve Him, and it is He who sees us through in the midst of every struggle and pleasure, disappointment and joy. We can share that this is how life looks and feels when God enables us to live by faith in Him, the sovereign God with sovereign plans for His people, and we can be assured that He alone fills our future and our hope.
Recently, in the worship service we attended, the passage in Ecclesiastes 3 was read and the reference to ‘time’ was made and the statement that there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Here I do not intend to share on this specifically but to refer to ‘time’ from another perspective.
I take the liberty to quote some verses from a lyric by John Ryland:
“Sovereign Ruler of the skies, Ever gracious, ever wise, All my times are in thy hands, All of events at thy command.
His decree who formed the earth Fixed my first and second birth; Parents, native place, and time, All appointed were by him.
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 grief, Times of triumph and relief;
Times the tempter’s power to prove, Times to test the Saviour’s love; All must come, and last, and end As shall please my heavenly Friend.
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.”
I find this lyric describing aptly what I have learned and experienced, not only from the verse in Jeremiah 29, but from the various experiences and encounters God has seen fit to see me and my family through. In particular, as a doctor, I have encountered several near-death incidents and my family and I also were enabled to endure through severe times of trial and grief. The Lord God is always good and faithful, truly dependable and unchanging.
What I like to affirm is that in life, in trials, even in the face of illness and death, when all seem ‘hopeless’ and very distressing, our relationship with God is what matters most, and this should always be our priority and concern. God never fails; we do, and hence we must, in dependence on His Spirit, persevere and nurture our trust and confidence in Him and be steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labour is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).
I do not know whether this will still hold true at the end of my life. I appreciate your prayers and my request to our great God is that He would continue to be gracious and merciful to me and my family and cause His face to shine upon us and keep us faithful until we see Him face to face- Amen.