One of my favorite passages of the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
For years I read this verse and thought, “I’m so glad that God is watching over me, that He cares for me and will be with me along the way.” Then almost 20 years ago, I got married and we used this verse in our wedding. Suddenly, my thinking changed. Now it became, “I’m so glad that God is watching over Jos and me, that He cares for us and will be with our family along the way.”
As I’ve gotten older, read and re-read this passage in context, I’m not sure my thinking was entirely correct. It wasn’t wrong but it wasn’t fully right.
The problem I’ve had is that I read this and other promises of God very individualistically. Yes – there are individual promises to for me. The work of Christ does apply to each of us personally, but many, if not most, of the promises of God, relate to us corporately as God’s people.
God’s promise to Abraham was that “you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.” (Gen 17:4). Right before the exodus, God said to Moses, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7). The apostle Peter continues this theme in 1 Peter 2 with a beautiful passage which includes not only God’s calling us together as His people but sending us out as His ambassadors.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
God does have plans for me and for you. But these plans include many, many others. Together He plans to give us “a future and a hope.“