Whenever we hear of ominous threats against our nation and against us as citizens, or when we hear bad news at work or some other place, we need to remember this: God Almighty is thinking about us. He has a plan for us that is good.
In Jeremiah 29, we find God's words to a group of people who were concerned about their future. They are God's words to those who may feel forsaken, even forgotten: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (verse 11 NKJV).
This was the message God sent to the nation of Israel and specifically to the Jews who were being held captive by the Babylonians. Their captivity was a result of their continual rebellion against God and His Word. God had warned them repeatedly not to turn to false gods. Here were people who had a unique, covenant relationship with God; yet time and again, they turned to false gods, idols that could not see, hear, or help them in any way.
God raised up prophets to warn them, but they persisted in their idolatry. God even warned them that a nation would conquer them and their enemies would prevail against them if they did not turn from these idols. Still, they resisted and rebelled.
Eventually, D-day came — or B-day, I should say, as in Babylon. The Babylonians came and conquered the people of Israel and carried them into captivity in Babylon for 70 years. The irony here is that Babylon was a center of idol worship. It was as though God said, "You want idols? OK. I'll give you idols."
The Israelites got fed up with it quickly. They didn't like it one bit. They began to cry out to God for deliverance. Some even said that God had forsaken them.
But God told them, "And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace" (verse 7 NKJV).
God was saying, "You are in Babylon right now. You don't like being there. You want to get out of there immediately. But here is what I am saying: Make the best of it. Be good citizens. Know there is coming a day when I will deliver you from this place. Pray for it. This day may not come as quickly as you would like it to. But you will have to serve your time — 70 years."
God said this because false prophets were giving the people false hope. They were saying that God revealed to them that Israel would be delivered immediately. But God was saying, "Ultimately you will be delivered, but not right away. I wanted you to know that."
Sometimes we too feel that God has forsaken us. Sometimes we think God has forgotten us.
Maybe there were certain goals you had hoped to reach by this particular stage of your life. Here you are, and you have not reached those goals. You had hoped certain things would happen. You wanted to be married by this time, but you are not married yet. You wanted to have kids and you don't have kids. You wanted to be at a certain level of success in your business, yet that hasn't happened.
You may be thinking, "God, what are you doing? Why haven't You done what I wanted You to do?"
God has not forsaken you. He has a plan. He has a purpose. It may not be exactly what you want or when you want it, but know this: God's plan is better than yours. You will need to trust Him on this. You have some things that you need to learn first. You will see.
I am sure the Israelites must have been thinking, "How could God allow us to be taken captive by our enemies?" Yet sometimes God does not work the way that you would want Him to. He may lead you down some paths you did not want to walk.
It is during those times when you must fall back on the love of God and remember that whatever He does in your life or fails to do, in your estimation, is based on His love.
You need to remember that He has a plan for you. He has a purpose for you. And it is good.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!