The scripture mentioned above is part of a prophecy made by Jeremiah and is used and claimed by many people just for that specific part. Now, I will not venture into any discussion about claiming verses out of the blue just because it is their memory or life verse. What I would like to do though is to put this passage in perspective.
Jeremiah 29 is a letter written by Jeremiah to those exiled to Babylon when Jerusalem fell and King Johiachin, the queen-mother, the court officials, nobles, craftsmen, and artisans were deported to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 1 and 2). These people probably included the prophet Daniel and his friends, Meshac, Shadrach, and Abed-nego (these were their Babylonian names).
Jeremiah’s letter contained an encouragement and a warning. The encouragement part is from verses 5-14 which tells the exiles to settle in Babylon and live normal lives, for the Lord, the God of Heaven’s Armies intended them to be exiled and that God will bless them in the land where they are going. God even tells them how long they will stay, 70 years.
Jeremiah told these people what God intended to do to Israel because of their sins. But they would not listen. When Jeremiah’s prophecy that Babylon would conquer them and that they would be exiled was fulfilled, the Israelites were too stubborn not to believe the succeeding prophecies that are declared to them again and again. They would rather believe false prophets who tell them lies. Lies that they wanted to hear.
Exile is a very harsh word. The people expected harshness and would not believe that God will bless them. What can you expect? (They should look to Daniel to see how God used him to become one of the highest appointed non-Babylonian in the land.) The people thought that they would be treated badly by the Babylonians. But that was not God’s plan. Verse 11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.‘”
We need to expect God to have plans for our lives that may be nowhere near our plans.
God’s plan is oftentimes very unlike our plans and one reason why the exiles had a hard time believing Jeremiah’s prophecies. So what does this tells us? We need to expect God to have plans for our lives that may be nowhere near our plans. Sometimes we make plans and tell people that this is God’s plan. Then when things don’t happen as “planned” they do another plan and then claiming that it is God’s plan. This goes on and on. It shows insensitivity to God’s Holy Spirit who Jesus sent as our Counselor.
People seem to make themselves believe that their plan was “led” by the Holy Spirit when in fact, it was conceived by none other than themselves alone. They make God a scapegoat and make all sorts of ways to take the blame off them.
God’s plan IS God’s plan. It will always be for good and not for disaster, to give us hope and a future. Making sure that the plan we are doing is God’s plan is another issue. So pray hard and discern hard. Make sure that every step that we make is in line with the word of God. A little bit of caution though. There are plans that you do not need to wait on God. But for those plans that will affect your spiritual life, for example, then you better be sure you moving according to God’s move in your life.