There are three young boys, of whom I currently disciple, that have recently experienced what it feels like to have their parents divorce each other. That is definitely a fracture in the family unit. All three of these boys really do not understand why, they are all angry, and they are wondering how a supposedly good God would allow this to happen to their family. Now, there are few things more detrimental to the psyche and emotions of a child than divorce. How do you tell a child that is going through this that everything will be okay? After this break, how do you tell them to be strong? How do you explain that God is good all of the time no matter what happens?
In order to answer these questions, it is good to go to a very common verse in Scripture. In Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT), the Word of God 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.’”
Now, this verse is printed on t-shirts, etched on coffee mugs, and stamped on greeting cards. It is so popular! However, it is also one of the most misused Scriptures in all of the Bible. You might find yourself using this verse to temporarily encourage someone going through a time. One might use this verse to say that God only has good plans for you here on Earth. You know, the stuff that we think is good would be money, power, health, and parents that are still together. While God is the giver of all things hopeful, we have to understand the context of this cherished verse.
Jeremiah was a prophet from God that prophesied in the southern kingdom of Judah right before the Israelites were taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In Jeremiah chapter 27, he prophesied that the Israelites would serve Nebuchadnezzar and his next four generations. Life would be hard and they would be under the control of a foreign king.
In the next chapter, a guy named Hananiah prophesies that God would free the Israelites not long after their captivity and God would restore every material thing that He had taken away from him. That sounds awesome, right? There is just one problem. Jeremiah challenges Hananiah by calling him a false prophet. Jeremiah tells everyone Hananiah will die because of his lies and two months later, he was dead!
In chapter 29, Jeremiah is encouraging the people to continue living their lives even though they are going through a really tough time in exile. He tells them this tough time will last for 70 years! Does this sound like plans for hope and a future for God’s chosen people? They wanted everything to go back to normal and go home while God said to wait and deal with it. The hardest part of dealing with it was that the older generation would never return to their home. They would die in Babylon.
So, here is the key; it is the “Ah-Ha” moment. We need to understand the difference between our idea of a bright and hopeful future, and God’s idea of that. Humans are so short-sighted and earthly-minded. God’s ways are so much better than our ways. When He says “our future,” He is talking about eternity with Him in Heaven. He is talking about Romans 10:9-1Lol0 NLT, which says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
That is our hope and our future. That is the plan for good and not disaster. That is how you can answer those boys’ questions of why. That is how they can gain strength. That is how you can tell them everything will be okay. That is how the fracture can get stronger. You do not try to explain “why,” you point them to “Who!”
You explain the Gospel to them, over and over and over again. You show them the goodness of God in the creation of our being and the salvation of our souls. You show them Jesus’ finished work on the cross. You do this by guiding them in the repetitive reading of Scripture; that is how. Instead of tethering our minds to this temporary world and all of the things we think we want for it, we fasten our minds to the promises and truths in the Word of God. We fix our sights on eternity. It all begins with the Gospel.
God has only plans for good, and not for disaster for His chosen people because nothing about Heaven will be disastrous. I would like to encourage you to read Jeremiah chapters 27-29, so you can get a biblical and broad view of everything we just discussed.