“FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU”
PART 1: WHEN MY LIFE FEELS POINTLESS
JEREMIAH 29: 1-14
I want to remind you again of that picture that I was given by God – of this time in my life being a “mountain of trouble and despair” that I must get across in order to get to the other side – a beautiful vale of hope and happiness. I want to remind you that the narrow, and seemingly treacherous, path that I am walking on to get across this mountain is in fact a blessed path – provided for me by Father God to get across this mountain of “trouble and despair”, and that I am not alone on this path – even though it might feel like it – for He is with me to make my steps firm and to stop me from falling even though I stumble.
On Tuesday morning I awoke to battle (again!)…a familiar one for me. As I lay halfway between sleepfulness and wakefulness I was being attacked with the feeling that “you have lost everything that is dear to you. There is no point to your life at all. There is no legacy that you shall leave. You shall just pass away and be forgotten. What is the point of your life?”
[Just a little aside here: if someone you know is feeling like this then beware of offering them platitudes such as “nonsense! Of course your life has a point, why on earth are you thinking that it doesn’t?” This does not help and pushes the person who is feeling life is pointless actually further away and into despair]
I am on the “mountain of trouble and despair”. But thank God, He makes my feet firm on that safe path across and His hand stops me from falling when I stumble (Psalm 37: 23-24). So many people, however, when their life feels pointless are at risk of not just falling but of literally throwing themselves over the precipice.
40 years of working with teenagers who are going through tough times has confirmed that adolescents as young as 13 are in the grip of the depression of pointlessness – at this tender age they are already seeing no future, no point to their lives, causing them to turn to anger, hate, crime, despair, self-harm and suicide…and this number is growing!
When we feel that our life is pointless it also means that we feel that our life is without purpose.
But God says:
“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)
Therefore, if I allow Father God to direct my paths (Proverbs 3: 6) then my life DOES have a point.
For a “plan” means I have a “purpose” and that means that my life does have a “point”
And so, no matter how I feel on the “mountain of trouble and despair” I hold on to the Truth – and YOU must hold on to the Truth – that my life is NOT pointless – and your life is not pointless.
My daily battle then becomes to resist the devil (James 4: 7) and recognise (and denounce) his lies, and then to believe in God’s promises and put my trust in Him.
My daily battle becomes one of “taking captive every thought” (2 Corinthians 10: 5)and recognise that the devil, our enemy, wishes to use his greatest weapon – that of FEAR – while I take up the “shield of FAITH” with which to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6: 16).
When God sent this prophecy, given through Jeremiah, to the Jewish exiles in Babylonia, He made two things very clear
- The plans would not be put into place immediately – the captives would have to wait 70 years for them to come into fruition. Just as there is a gap of time between an architects plans being drawn up and the house being built, so I am called to “wait patiently” (Psalm 40: 1) until my purpose is revealed to me
- I have something to do while I put my trust in Him to bring His plans for my life to fulfilment:
The captives were told to “get on with life” – build houses, settle down, have children, pray for God’s blessing on the place where they found themselves (Jeremiah 29: 5-7). So, rather than “wallow” in my time of trouble I must “walk” on with living my life for God.
The UCB “Word for Today” from the 15th October 2012 is helpful here:
|Make the Most of It||15 Oct 2012|
|‘When it prospers, you will…prosper.’ Jeremiah 29:7|
|Are you at a place in your life and you’d rather not be there? Well, God has a word for you, but it may not be one you want to hear. It’s the same word Jeremiah brought to his people when they were slaves in Babylon, far from everything near and dear: ‘You’re not going home anytime soon, so change your attitude, dig in and make the best of it. Buy homes, plant gardens, let your children get married…and in addition, pray for the peace and prosperity of the city where you’re living because when it prospers, you will prosper’ (Jeremiah 29: 5-7). The Israelites were in exile because God had allowed them to be taken captive. So, could it be that you are where you are today because God placed you there to bless those around you? Instead of putting your life on hold waiting for circumstances to change, start sowing into other people’s lives what you want to come back as a harvest in your own. Why? Because when they are blessed, you’ll be blessed too! How do we know? Because Jesus said, ‘Give, and it will be given to you…the measure you use…will be measured to you’ (Luke 6:38 NIV). Martha Washington said, ‘I’m determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be. I’ve learned that the greater part of happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.’ That sounds just like Paul: ‘I have learned [to be] content in…every situation’ (Philippians 4:12 NIV). If you want to go from surviving to thriving, make the most of where God placed you.|
The captives were told to call on God, pray to God and seek God (v. 12-13) with the promise that He will then HEAR them and FIND them (v. 12-13). So rather than “wallow” in my time of trouble I must “worship” Him in the truest sense of the word by turning my ears, eyes and heart to Him as I trust in Him to save me from this time in the “mountain of trouble and despair”.
I do not know what today holds, but I know who holds today.
I do not know, at this time, the plans He has for my life now. What I was sure of, I am no longer sure of. But WHO I am sure of (Almighty Father God) means that I WILL be sure that that He yet has plans for my life – that is why I am still alive!
I WILL wait patiently for Him to “rescue me” (Psalm 40: 1-3)and reveal His purpose for my life from this time forward as I go step-by-step with Him over this “mountain of trouble and despair”.
|I Will Pinpoint (From “Lion Bites” 6th October 2020)|
|Do not let your hearts be cluttered with the enormity of change, but remember that I have the ‘bird’s-eye view’. I can see the past, present and future all at once. I hold your days, your minutes and your hours in my hands and I will pinpoint what you need to do next and what has to change. Do not be overwhelmed but hand it all to me.|
Revelation 22:13 NIV
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Matthew 6:33-34 NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.