“God Alone Knows His Purposes” ( Jeremiah 29 : 11-13, NEB ) by Carley Evans

“I alone know My purpose for you, says the Lord: prosperity and not misfortune, and a long line of children after you. If you invoke Me and pray to Me, I will listen to you: when you seek Me, you shall find Me; if you search with all your heart, I will let you find Me, says the Lord. I will restore your fortunes.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

God allows us to find Him when we search diligently; when we call on Him and pray to Him. He listens like no human being is capable of listening — with full understanding. God alone knows His plans for us. Where there is misfortune, He will restore prosperity.

God sometimes places us — or allows us to place ourselves — in situations that are particularly tough for us — in places of “exile.” He says, “To all the exiles whom I have carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon,” “when a full seventy years has passed over Babylon, I will take up your cause and fulfill the promise of good things I made you, by bringing you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:4, 10) Here God has an actual time frame in His plan; and He rebukes prophets who claim differently. “Do not be deceived,” He warns, “by the prophets or diviners among you.” (Jeremiah 29:8)

God has plans and purposes known only to Him — He determines discipline and the manner in which He brings people back into a close relationship with Him. Despite allowing our troubles and misfortunes, He also decides when and how and where to restore “prosperity”. As Paul reminds us, “in everything, as we know, He co-operates for good with those who love [Him] and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“From Babylon” (Jeremiah 29: 11, ESV) by Carley Evans

We are in exile, far from the Lord. We are in a place to which He sent us — a place called Babylon. When an appointed time is passed, He brings us out of that place. Then, we call upon Him. We come and pray to Him. We seek Him with our whole hearts and we find Him. Our fortunes are restored.

God explains, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jesus speaks of the man with two sons. The younger son wants his inheritance now. The man gives his sons what should come to them in the future. The younger leaves for a faraway country “where he squanders his property in reckless living.” (Luke 15: 13) He becomes so desolate that he eats the corn husks left behind by the pigs. “When he comes to himself,” he realizes that even his father’s servants are in better shape than he. So, he returns home. (Luke 15: 17)

From a distance, his father sees him. He “feels compassion, and runs and embraces him.” (Luke 15: 20) He throws a huge celebration for the recovery of his youngest son.

The older son, who remains in the field, hears the music and the laughter. He comes close enough to discover that his younger brother has returned, and that their father has “killed the fattened calf.” (Luke 15: 27) He is livid; his anger so intense he refuses to enter the house. He pouts that he has not received recognition for staying put, for serving his father diligently.

His father entreats, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15: 31 – 32)

God is always waiting for exiles to turn from Babylon. His plans are for our good; He is prepared to kill the fattened calf, turn up the music, celebrate our return from the deadness of the world. God gives us a future and a hope, whether we are always by His side or whether we run away then turn to seek Him.