Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
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.
Various tools are used when interpreting scripture. Among them is the question, to whom is the Scripture speaking? To the Jews, the Gentiles or the church. Another tool is the historical and grammatical context in which it was written.
This particular passage was a letter written by the prophet Jeremiah to the Jews held in exile in Babylon. He was telling them to make themselves comfortable while they were in Babylon, because they were going to be there for a period of seventy years.
Today we use this passage of scripture to help strengthen and bring comfort to God’s people. Some theologians will tell you it is not applicable for Christians to use this portion of scripture today because it was written to the Jews. We must therefore ask the question who were the Jews? The answer is God’s chosen people. Who then are the Christians? The answer is they are also God's people. It therefore stands to reason that the scripture can be applied today as we are all children of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
God has a specific plan for each of us even when we do not acknowledge Him. For example he called Cyrus - a Persian - His shepherd and used him to free the Jews from Babylon.
Cyrus: God’s Anointed Shepherd
Nearly 125 years before Cyrus was born, the prophet Isaiah foretold the tasks that God had predetermined for him to accomplish (Isaiah 45). The Bible records that certain people are preordained to be born and carry out specific tasks for God during their lifetime and a few of these individuals are even named before their birth. Cyrus the Great was one of these individuals whom God had predestined to play an essential role in his awesome plan for humanity. God destroyed the Babylonian empire through him, and brought a close to a seventy-year punishment of the Jews that God had imposed on them for their rebellion against him.
Jeremiah 1:4-5 (ESV)
The Call of Jeremiah
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah was set apart before birth to be a prophet to the nations with a specific ministry to Judah.
When we are discouraged and feeling depressed we should take courage in knowing that God is working out His purpose in our lives.
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
God plans will supersede mans plans:
Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)
21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Pharaoh had a plan for all the male children of Israel. His plan was to have them killed but God had other plans. He had Moses mother place him in a basket made of bulrushes and seal it with bitumen and pitch and had him placed in the river where Pharaoh daughter found him and adopted him. He was educated and lived under Pharaoh's protection. God’s plan is at work. Moses' journey from a prince of Egypt to the desert as a shepherd was all part of his training to lead God’s people.
What Is meant for evil God turns it around and uses it for his purpose, Joseph understood this (Genesis 50:20).
God has a plan for us and as we travel this life’s pilgrim journey it will not always be easy. There will be hills and valleys, deserts and rivers in our way. At time life will be difficult, trouble may confront us from many sides, spouses, and children may give us problems, our bosses may not be the best, sickness may come our way, but we shouldn’t lose hope. We must know deep within our heart that God's plan is at work in our lives and those plans are not to hurt us but to give us a future and hope.
Therefore even as we make our plans let us commit them to God with prayer and see if they align with His plans for us, or they will surely fail. The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his ways. God is faithful and He will see us through.