ACE Business Consulting sponsored our April short essay contest, awarding over $1000 in scholarships towards entry into the Christian Miss National Pageant. This winning essay was written by Heidi Culbertson of Springfield, Missouri.
Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most commonly referred to verses in the Bible. It is a heartwarming reminder that God has plans to give us hope and a future and has plans to prosper us. But it is important to understand the context in which this passage exists. Jeremiah 29 is a letter written to the people of Israel after they were exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. Early on in the chapter, we find out that the Israelites are to be exiled in Babylon for seventy years. There are people who are going to be born and will die in exile never knowing anything else. So, how can God have a plan to prosper a people he has allowed to be exiled? God tells his people in verses 5-7 to build their lives! He tells them to multiply and produce food and even pray for the city in which they have been exiled. God tells them that the “welfare [of Babylon] will determine [their own] welfare” (verse 7b). He also tells them to not get caught up in what the false prophets of Babylon are saying because they were not sent by the Lord.
This brings us to verse 11. After God describes the things the Israelites must do for 70 years, He promises them that they will be delivered from their exile and He will fulfill his plans to prosper his people. This is why the context of this verse is so important. God’s promise is contingent upon His people being obedient and prayerful. This is the same call God has placed on our lives. The world we live in today is full of evil and despair but that doesn’t mean we are allowed to stop living our lives. We are told in John 17 to be in the world but not of the world. We don’t have to participate in the evil, but we don’t have control over its existence. There are things that we have been asked to do as Christians that seem difficult, but they are still important because God has asked us to do them. This is the time in which it is most important to live our lives fully for the glory of God. By living our lives to glorify God, he can fulfill the promises he has made to us countless times throughout His Word. God acknowledges the hardships we face but does not promise us that it will be an easy road. Exile will last for a long time, but He will fulfill his promises if we remain faithful to Him. This is a small thing that God asks from us so we can spend eternity with Him!