2018 was ushered in with parties, celebrations and fireworks. People eagerly embraced the new year as an opportunity for new beginnings with new hopes and dreams. As the revelers faced the new year perhaps they claimed a much-loved promise from Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan for them…a good plan… plan of prosperity and no harm, a plan of hope and a pleasant future. Hopefully, those dreamers will have their hopes met with evidences of God’s lavish love and generous provision. At times like this the praises fall from our lips, our hands are lifted to God in complete surrender and adoration. God is good, and future is bright. Our “boundary lines … in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6).
But what if – what if our boundary lines do not fall in pleasant places in 2018?
What if the times of prosperity and hope are interspersed with times of loss, sorrow, and grief. Is God still good? Is Jeremiah 29:11 still true? Can we still praise God? Yes, yes and yes!
God is still good! That is His immutable character, and nothing will alter that. In his book, “The Will of God is the Word of God,” author James MacDonald, reminds us that another interpretation of the word “plans” in verse 11 is “thoughts.” Take a moment and reflect on that blessing…God’s thoughts to us are good. He loves us more than we will ever understand. We are His beloved. He sees the whole picture. He knows EXACTLY what we need to become what He created us to be. God thinks about us and is filled with delight. His thoughts toward us are good!
Jeremiah 29:11 is still true. The misunderstanding comes when we assume that the promised prosperity means a life without difficulties or struggles. God does not promise a life of wealth and ease with no sorrow or hardship. If fact, if we follow in Jesus’ steps by denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him, we will experience a totally different type of prosperity: a prosperity of the soul that is transformed with ever increasing glory into the image of God. Any adult can tell you that it was precisely in their darkest times, when they had nothing left but the grace of God that they realized His grace was more than sufficient to meet EVERY need. In those difficult times is when they grew the most spiritually and prepared them for a future filled with incomprehensible hope.
We can and must still praise God.
We are not called upon to praise God for the negative or painful situation we are facing, but we can and must praise Him for how He reveals Himself in the situation. When I make a conscious effort to praise God through my heartbreak, tears, and fears, eventually the hurt and pain subside. Psalm 22:3, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel,” (KJV) reminds me that when I choose to praise God, I am putting myself in the presence of God and there is no where else I would rather be. Nowhere else where I can get what I need – in good and bad times.
The title for this blog is taken from one of my favorite songs by Mercy Me, “Even If.” I encourage you to listen to it and choose to make it your testimony in 2018.