As we look toward the New Year and people make plans, hopes and aspirations, I thought I would share an entry from my Drawing Near to God devotional (which you can also read online, receive each day in your inbox or view on our mobile app. Remember that God has plans for you and to seek him whole-heartedly!
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.
Jeremiah the prophet speaks words of hope to the Israelites in exile. They must have wondered if God had forsaken them as they found themselves in captivity in a foreign country. Jeremiah told them that after 70 years were completed, He would come to them and fulfill His promise to return them to their homeland. We know from history that the Israelites returned to Jerusalem after 70 years, and they rebuilt their temple and restored their city. The Lord reminds His people through Jeremiah that He has a plan and purpose for them—plans that included a hope for the future. He knew that the Israelites would once again call on Him and He would hear their cry and deliver them.
Sometimes we find ourselves in captivity wondering if God has forsaken us. We question if He has a plan for us and wonder if the chains that hold us will ever be broken. God has promised in His Word that it is in the places of bondage—the places where we are held captive—that He hears our cry and gives us hope for the future.
Peter found himself in a prison for sharing the good news of Christ. He could have wondered if God had forsaken him, but instead he began to worship and praise the Lord. He knew that God had a plan for him, and whether it was in prison or in the free world, God would be exalted. His assurance of his future is indicative of his trust in God. Peter knew that God’s plan for him was not to harm him, but to use him to bring others to Christ. His mission was fulfilled even in the prison when the guards accepted Christ, and he continued upon his release to preach and demonstrate the good news.
Do you feel forsaken by God? Are you wondering if He has plans for you that are good? Today’s Scripture reading reminds us that when we call out to Him, He will hear. The key is to seek Him wholeheartedly, and when you do, He will bring you back from captivity.
My future is uncertain and I need the hope that You bring. Help me to keep my eyes on You and to trust You with my future.
In Jesus’ name, Amen