Chicago Downtown Loop photo by Vincent Desjardins on Flickr.
By Lisa Nordell-Detres
“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 hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
This beautiful message of hope resonates loudly in these uncertain times; maybe as loudly as when the words were spoken through the prophet Jeremiah almost three thousand years ago. Did you ever stop to wonder why this message was delivered to the people of ancient Israel? What were the uncertain times that required these words of encouragement?
All you need to do is read the whole chapter of Jeremiah 29 and you will find your answer. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God was preparing His people for seventy years of exile in Babylon. Seventy years! That is an entire lifetime for anybody who was old enough to understand the words. Many people had already been taken to Babylon, located in what is now Iraq, and the message was to settle in, plant gardens, have families because they were going to be there for a long time. This exile was part of God’s judgment on His people for their disobedience and apostasy.
A modern day comparison could be the Soviet Union, an oppressive Communist dictatorship that smothered Russians for 69 years. Before the Bolshevik Revolution, there were as many as 1,000 churches in Moscow, but after the persecution of all religions other than atheism and state-sanctioned churches, fewer than 300 remained by the fall of the USSR. There were so many Russians who were born and died during those years, never knowing that there was any God other than the state.
God’s love and mercy will last forever (Praise Him!) but His patience apparently does wear out. He explained in Jeremiah 30:11 that He was punishing the people for their unfaithfulness, but unlike the nations who were allowed to oppress Israel for a time, God would not make a complete end to His people.
God has plans for His people who have been led astray by any of the shiny distractions this world has to offer. The question for us all is this: Are we going to continue following the shiny false gods of this world so that we, our children and grandchildren will have to suffer under God’s judgment or will we repent of our unfaithfulness and follow God with all our heart? In Jeremiah 29:13, He promises that those who will seek Him with all their hearts will find Him.
Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to two boys with a third on the way (!), a pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside. Lisa is also a member of the Central Oregon Writers Guild.
Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, studied Christian Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf University, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon.