The context of Jeremiah 29 makes it crystal clear that suffering is a reality for God’s people in this fallen world and that God’s people will not escape it. But God says to His people, “In the middle of suffering, I promise to enable you to endure it.” God does not promise in His Word that suffering will end in a short time. That is a false hope that has led all kinds of people astray, with preachers or Christians saying, “If you just believe, have faith, you will be healed soon. If you just have faith and believe, you will have financial health soon. If you just believe, your marriage will be reconciled soon. Name it, claim it. Believe it, receive it.”
Then when it doesn’t happen, when the healing doesn’t come, when the finances aren’t there, when the divorce becomes final, people are left wondering, “Did I not have enough faith?” Or worse, “Is God actually there? Or if He is there, can He actually be trusted?” But never in His Word does God promise that your suffering will end in a short time. You might ask, “Well, did God promise anything along these lines?” And the answer, although not as popular, is clear here in Jeremiah 29:11. True hope is this: God promises your suffering will end in the long term. “Exile will not be the end for you,” God tells His people. “Your suffering will not have the last word. I have good plans for you, and my good plans are guaranteed to prevail in the end.”
Do you realize what this meant for God’s people in Jeremiah 29 and what it means for us as God’s people today? God’s plan calls for patient trust. Seventy years is a long time to wait. Most of us would like God to work out our problems by the end of the week, not the end of the century. This is why these false prophets were so appealing then and it’s why prosperity teaching is so popular today. But it’s not true. It’s a lie. What’s true is that God is calling His people through His Word to patient trust.
Is it possible that suffering could end soon . . . with a healing or with a needed reconciliation? Absolutely! By the grace and power of God, it is possible. We can and should pray for that. But is it guaranteed? Absolutely not. You can’t bank your life on that. God hasn’t said that, no matter how good it sounds. As your pastor, I’m not going to say it, no matter how many crowds it brings or doesn’t bring.
What God says is that when suffering comes, sometimes it stays for a while. When a child has a special need, it isn’t going away anytime soon, no matter how much you name and claim. When you go to that next doctor’s appointment and the cancer is worse, not better, when that relational hurt is not healing, when that grief over loss is not going away, when you see no light at the end of that dark tunnel, God says, “In the middle of a real world where these are realities, trust Me. Even when you can’t see it, I have good plans for you.”
Light is coming. In this fallen, hurting world, weeping may tarry for the night, but God guarantees that joy is coming in the morning. God not only guarantees that suffering will eventually come to an end, He promises to get you to that end. God’s plan calls for patient trust and God’s plan comes with persevering grace.
Remember the language in Jeremiah 29 here: “I will restore you. I will gather you. I will bring you back from this place.” God does not say, “You’re on your own in your suffering. Hopefully you can make it through this.” No, God says, “You’re in My hands and I take responsibility for bringing you through your suffering, which means I’m going to give you all the grace, all the strength, all the wisdom, all the help you need.”
For the full sermon from which this excerpt was taken, go here.
This article originally appeared here.