Jeremiah 29:11 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 a hope and a future’.” There are many verses in the Bible that are easy to take out of context; this is one example.
Taking the verse out of context is why some people label Jeremiah 29:11 as one of the worst verses of the Bible.
People consider it the worst verse because it gives false hope. It gives a view that God will never allow bad things to happen.
Then, when harm and hurt come into their lives, they blame God for not taking care of them, and say he is the cause of their pain because he is not fulfilling the promise that Jeremiah 29:11 gives. They call him a liar. Then what is the result of that? Lost faith.
Now, while I do agree with some of those points, I believe it is the worst verse only if it is taken out of context.
I may be biased because of the fact that this verse is my family’s verse and I live my life by this verse, but I also strongly believe this verse gives the most hope to anyone and everyone.
This verse clearly displays the promise that God will not leave our side. No matter how bad things get, one thing still remains: God will pull us through.
It gives us reason to keep on going through the hard times; if we had nothing to live for or look forward to, then our suffering would consume our lives.
It would consume our world and become our identity. Jeremiah 29:11 gives something to look forward to.
When you are on your knees, hitting rock bottom, crying out ‘God why me?’, this verse is there telling you that whatever you are going through is hard, it’s tough, and it may last days, months or years, but it does not mean God has forgotten you. It is there to give you the promise that there will be a day that God will make you prosperous, a day where he will reveal his hopes for you and give you the most amazing future.
Then you will stand at the gates of heaven when your time comes and he will stand before you saying ‘thank you, good and faithful servant.’
This verse is your crutch to not give up on him, to not cave in to the hardships, to keep going, keep striving, keep pursuing God so that he can one day reveal to you everything great he has in store. That is what he would thank you for: not giving up on him.
It is so easy to take a verse out of context and misinterpret it when it stands alone. The verse that follows says that we must seek him with all our heart, and when that happens, we will see God’s promise unfold. God will do his part when we do ours.
That second verse is one of the key components that must not be forgotten but is so easily overlooked. The true value of this verse is not that bad things will never happen but that God will be with us, a plan in mind, even through the bad times.
That is the problem; people miss the true meaning of the verse and take it out of context. Jeremiah 29:11 is not the only verse easily misinterpreted or taken to literally.
Leviticus 19:28 commands us to not mark our bodies with cuts or tattoo marks. Well if you take that verse alone like that, then no Christian is allowed to have a tattoo.
Just before that verse Leviticus 19:26-27 says no one should eat any meat with blood in it. So if you are a Christian you can no longer eat your medium steaks.
We take these verses black and white and label them for what they say but never take the time to further read or further interpret what the true value of the verse is.
Earlier in Jeremiah the Israelites were told that they would have to endure 70 years of exile, pain and struggle. Yet, that was God’s plan from the start and after those 70 years he fulfilled his promise to them by bringing them back to their homeland.
Justin Knowles, associate youth ministry pastor at Christ Church of the Valley in southern California, said that exile and pain brought upon the Israelites was in order to have them look to him, grow and become stronger during those 70 years.
That is what God intends to happen with our hard times. He wants us to continually look to him and then use these experiences as a learning experience, a way to grow and become stronger then ever in our faith.
Don’t look at Jeremiah 29:11 when life is good and think life will always be good, then when one thing goes bad look at the verse as a lie. Rather turn to this verse when you are experiencing the darkest days and remember who is looking out for you. Turn to Him, trust Him and know that the good days are on their way.
Williamson is a freshman majoring in journalism and mass communication. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.