First United Presbyterian Church

For I know the plans I have for you

Jeremiah 29:11 Devotional

Mary Mann

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 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible because it is a direct promise from God that he will not just take care of me but make me prosperous! 

Right now, we all – especially our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Ukraine and other countries where poverty, sickness, and death are the norm – are clinging to God’s promise in this passage “to give you hope and a future.” There’s no ambiguity in that phrase, or in the word hope.

But what about the part where God says, “plans to prosper you?” Does that mean God will make us wealthy if we follow him? What does God really mean by prosper in this passage? The dictionary defines the word prosper as “succeed in material terms and be financially successful.” My sister-in-law is very wealthy and directly credits their faithfulness to God and his word as the reason. I like to think I am a faithful servant – but Mike and I do not have financial wealth, nor do millions of other faithful believers worldwide. In fact, many people in service to the Lord take vows of poverty.

But I do prosper. I prosper in the abundance of love I have for our children and grandchildren that God provided to me. I prosper in satisfaction when I help prepare a 7-Hills Meal each month. I prosper in general because I have a nice warm house, good food, and amazing brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I share deep friendships. So is it possible God didn’t just mean for us to interpret this passage as prosper in wealth? Maybe we should submit a secondary definition to Webster’s, which defines prosper as “fulfillment of God’s love and assurance.” If that’s what it means to prosper, then my ship has come in!

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