“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Two equations can help us visualize this verse:
1. Plans = Prosper > Harm
At the time Jeremiah was delivering this message from God, Israel was in exile because of their sin—they were in enemy land, probably very oppressed and definitely feeling like God was ready to harm them. However, God’s plans for them was instead to bring prosperity. This didn’t mean God wanted to give them all fancy sports cars and huge houses, but prosperity is a level of fulfillment only available from God.
Think about the world during this time: being prosperous meant having successful crops—bearing good fruit. Today, God will prosper us by allowing us to bear good fruit through His Spirit (Galatians 5). This fruit, much like crops are to a community, are much to the benefit of those around us. Love, joy, peace—these things are not just for us, but for us to overflow with and spread to others.
2. Plans = Hope + Future
God gives us hope, and hope is not a fingers-crossed, wishful-thinking hope, but a hope in something real—a confidence in what God will do. This hope changes the way we live—if you hope to be something, to behave a certain way, you will live accordingly, and this will determine your future. For example, if you hope to be a husband who loves his wife, who teaches his children to value family and love God, you will strive for purity in mind and behaviour, and will demonstrate these values in your own life.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose…predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. (Romans 8:28-29)
Even though Jeremiah 29:11 was written for ancient Israel, because of Christ, we can apply these same promises to our own lives—it is God’s desire to bring us good, not harm, and to give us hope and a future to be like His son.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf. (Hebrew 6:19-20)
Because of Jesus, we can walk in intimacy with God, and this hope is an anchor, keeping us firmly planted in Christ.