Have your plans ever not worked out exactly like you had planned or intended? I can recall several times in my life when I had this very experience. I had certain plans, but for whatever reason those plans didn’t work out. Instead, I found myself in the midst of some circumstances I had not planned for and didn’t like. It seemed as if those circumstances weren’t going to change anytime soon.
Right now, if you are in some circumstance that you don’t want to be, stop and ask yourself “Am I here for a reason?” Remember the Southern kingdom, Judah? God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to lead an army to the gates of Jerusalem to destroy the temple and capture the people. This raid happened on three separate occasions (605 BC, 597 BC and 586 BC). It was during the last raid when the temple was destroyed. Maybe you are wondering why God allowed this to happen. The reason is because the Israelites turned away from the Lord (Jer. 25:8-9). They ignored God’s warnings and the prophets He sent them even to the point of killing some of those prophets. Thus, God raised up king Nebuchadnezzar to execute judgment upon His people.
The people of Judah were no different than all of us. They found themselves in the midst of circumstances they didn’t plan for. Let’s consider the many valuable lessons that we can learn from Judah and their unplanned circumstances.
God Will Not Always Do What We Expect Him To Do (Jer. 29:1-4).
I imagine that the people of Judah didn’t expect God to allow this to happen to them. After all, they were His chosen people. However, God doesn’t just allow this to happen, He clearly takes credit for sending Judah into exile (v. 4; 27:6). We must remember that sometimes God doesn’t work according to our plans or our timetable. In fact, at times God does the things we would least expect (ex: Joseph being sold in slavery and separated from his family; Moses being taken away from his mother, etc.).
God’s ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8-9). We must remember that sometimes God does things we wouldn’t expect Him to do because we can’t comprehend His thoughts. The people of Judah ended up involved in circumstances they didn’t like. When we end up in circumstances we don’t like, consider the fact that God might have brought us to such circumstances for a reason. Maybe you and I end up in certain circumstances because that’s where God wants us to be. Maybe there is something for us to learn or accomplish. Friends, never forget, God is often working in our lives during those inconvenient circumstances we find ourselves in.
God Wants Us To Be Productive/Useful Where We Are Regardless Of Our Plan (Jer. 29:5-7).
When we find ourselves in the midst of circumstances we don’t want to be in, the easy thing to do is complain and make excuses. In fact, sometimes we blame our situation for our lack of service to God on the unwelcomed circumstances in our lives. We might be employed and working long hours. It would be easy to use this as an excuse for a lack of service. But with God, it doesn’t matter. No matter our circumstances, God wants us to be productive in our service to Him. If we are employed and working long hours, God wants us to be a light to our coworkers. He wants us to demonstrate how Christians behave and work. If we are grieving, instead of using this as an excuse for a lack of service, God wants us to learn to minster to others who are grieving.
God wanted Judah to transform their situation and make the most of it instead of blaming God for their circumstances. It’s time we stop making excuses for our lack of service and get busy. I heard it said that the problem with excuses is that “They’re like armpits, everyone’s got a couple and they usually stink.” Regardless of our circumstances, God expects us to be useful in our service to Him.
God Can Accomplish Great Things Through Our Unplanned Circumstances (Jer. 29:8-10).
Consider what God accomplished through the 70 years of captivity that Judah found herself in. First, the grip of idolatry was broken. It took severe measures, but God was able to remove the virus of idolatry. Second, God established a presence among the Babylonians. Remember Daniel and his three friends? Their rise to prominence and power would have never happened had Judah not found herself in captivity. Third, Nebuchadnezzar became a believer. In Daniel 4 we read of how king Nebuchadnezzar became prideful, lost his mind and ate grass with cattle for 7 years. When he came to his senses, he cried out to the Lord in repentance of his sins (Dan. 4).
The people of Judah were unable to see God working in their circumstances through the 70 years. It’s the same for us today. We may not be able to see what God is accomplishing in our lives right away, but we can be certain that He can accomplish great things through our troubling circumstances.
God Still Cares For Us In Spite Of Our Present Circumstances (v. 11).
It would have been easy for Judah to think that God no longer cared for them because of their current circumstances. If God really cared, why would He allow this to happen, right? However, God through the prophet Jeremiah reminded the people that He still cared for them in spite of what was taking place in their lives. For instance, notice what the Lord said, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). Did you catch what the Lord said? He indicated that He was thinking about Judah and that His thoughts were good.
When we find ourselves in circumstances that are unpleasant, we would do well to realize that God still cares for us. Our present circumstances do not change the way God feels about us. After all, man is God’s prized creation (Gen. 1:26-27).
God Has A Plan For Our Lives (vs. 12-14).
Many of you have probably wondered the age old question, “What is God’s plan for me?” I personally believe that God has the same plan for us that He had for the captives of Judah. First, God wants us to learn to depend on Him (v. 12). Israel was in captivity because they had failed to depend on the Lord. Yet, God continually came through for the Israelites in times of crisis (Exodus 3:7). He was proven to be dependable.
Second, God wants us to seek and find Him (vs. 13-14). God is not trying to hide from us. Jesus said, “Seek and you shall find” (Matt. 7:7-9). God’s ultimate desire is that all people will come to know and live for Him (2 Pet. 3:9).
Third, God wants to give us a future and a hope (v. 11). The future for Judah was to return home to their land. The future and hope for us today is like nothing we can image. It’s an eternal home in heaven with God our Father
Friends, I don’t know where you are in your life right now, but I know this…God has a plan for you. You may not like the circumstances of your life, but perhaps you are where you are for a reason. Maybe there is something for you to learn or accomplish.
Remember, even when God’s plan is different from ours, His plan is always better!
Now that’s Something to Think About!