You might have heard Jeremiah 29:11 quoted over and over again to the point where the verse has lost its efficacy. Yet Tony Evans offers us a different way to think about this verse.
We often fail to consider the context of Jeremiah 29:11: God is speaking to the exiles in Babylon. He’s telling them to settle down there and not to listen to the prophets and diviners giving false hope about this being a short captivity. Throughout the chapter, God sounds angry. And yet, nestled in the center of it is this very reassuring verse. I have a plan for you…you will seek me again and I will restore what has been lost. But in the meantime, you are in exile.
To this end Evans says, “God does some of his best work when you are asleep—that is, in the dark…He’s behind the scenes, working it out.”
Evans vocalizes thoughts we all have: Maybe if I hadn’t [fill in the blank], God would have blessed me by now. “Maybe if you hadn’t married out of my will, or traveled out of my will you would have gotten it earlier.”
While Evans doesn’t give an answer for whether these thoughts are helpful or accurate, he does offer us a solution: “When you don’t know which way to go, seek him. If you’re in pain, seek him. If you’re tired of waiting, seek him.” In fact, “If you ask me, I’m going to send you back to him.” That’s because shortly after verse 11, the Lord says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
It sounds so simple, but sometimes we just forget. No one knows the exact reasons we go through the suffering we experience here on earth. If Christianity were as simple as the concept of karma, we wouldn’t need testimonies like those of Job.
What we do know is that “Jesus put up the payment for the plan.” He put up the payment for the good plans God has in mind for us and is even now working out.
We know God will fulfill his good plans for us because the Scripture tells us “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Or, in the words of Tony Evans, “What God starts, God finishes,” even when we’re in a state of exile.