Jeremiah 29:11 is a popular and well known Christian verse, it’s a word of encouragement given to Israel who are currently in exile. This verse is often used to encourage and support people, which is fantastic! Though sometimes we miss the wider context and limit our understanding of what is being said.
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
God is telling Israel that he has plans for them, and not just any plans, but plans for welfare and prosperity. Why would Israel need to be reminded of this? Well at this moment (as I mentioned earlier) Israel is exiled, they have been kicked out of their homeland and are in Babylon. They are not at home, they don’t have their usual home comforts and are in a place with a different and alien culture.
God however, does not leave them in despair and wallowing in self-pity and home sickness, he gives them a message. If we look even one verse back and consider also Jeremiah 29:10 we get a slightly different picture of how God is encouraging his people.
For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. (Jeremiah 29:10-11)
The message we can now understand is slightly different (though very similar). It is that though there may be suffering now, though you may be dismayed, know that there is hope. There may be a 70 year wait but do not think I have forgotten you, I promised to bring you home and I shall. God wants them to hold on to this promise for 70 years.
What promises has God made us that we may have lost hope on or forgotten about? God hasn’t forgotten, he will see every good work he begins to completion (Philippians 3:6), and his word will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11). Remember God’s promises to his people, remember what He has told you. We can find his promises in two major places: the bible, and from Him directly. So I encourage you, to remember the promises God makes in His word, and when you hear from God make note of it. God always delivers.
God bless you and keep you always.