Too good to be true. The promise of Jeremiah 29:11 can feel just too good to be true. Often spoken over another person as an encouragement to combat a disappointment or setback, the words can ring hollow when understood in their original context. That’s because God wasn’t talking about career success, dating relationships, or winning the JV soccer game. And He wasn’t addressing anyone and everyone. He was talking specifically to the people of Judah in exile. The “plans” God had involved restoring them as a nation and bringing them back from Babylon into the promised land. So unless you happen to be a sixth-century-BC Jew stuck in Mesopotamia for the duration, keep on moving—there’s nothing to see here.
In one sense, this is true. It won’t do to simply pick up a promise meant for someone else and take hold of it for ourselves or someone we love. But God has grafted all believers into His family tree of God (Ephesians 1:4–5; see also Romans 11:17). So the “future” God promised to His people in the Old Testament is now ours in Christ if we know Him, and the “hope” is bigger and better than anything we can imagine, because it is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27), of eternal life in the presence of the King (2Peter 1:4; Revelation 21:3), and of all things being made new (Revelation 21:5).
When faced with life’s challenges, the promise we have in Jeremiah is not that everything will work out the way we want, but instead that Christ will bring good from even the darkest moments this world can dish out. And in that, there is something lasting to hold onto.