“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
This verse has often been given to me as a form of encouragement; as a way to say, “Hang in there, God has something good planned at the end of all this.” While this is comforting as well as true, it can also be misleading.
It is true that God will work “all things” together for our good (Romans 8:28); and that, at the end of every thing that takes place, God fashions it according to His good purpose. But is that “good thing” reserved for some time in the future? Does that verse, along with the many like it, only refer to the day of redemption, the day when “all things” are brought to completion? Does it speak of some future day of blessing?
“When I get out of this mess, everything will be alright.” “Once I get out of debt, I can stop worrying.” “When my healing comes, I’ll finally have peace.” “I just know all this that I’m going through will someday work out for my good, but when is that ‘good’ ever going to come?”
Never, if this is the way we think. Let me explain…
Until we overcome the inability to recognize the good that is, we will never truly obtain or appreciate the good that is to come. We will always be waiting for it. Now is never good enough; and we never seem to reach tomorrow. We keep on waiting for the good that is coming, the good “at the end of all of this”; but the good is now. “It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us” (Mother Teresa).
In Philippians 4:11, Paul wrote, “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” And in Hebrews 13:5, he wrote, “…be content with such things as ye have…” That is not to say we should accept bad things and call them good. We should seek relief from God, praying for deliverance, without neglecting to acknowledge that even in the midst of our suffering, God has blessed us and filled our lives with good things. The thoughts of peace God has for us, is for us to have peace now, as well as when the storm passes.
So when I lie in bed tossing and turning, waiting and longing for “that day” to come, wondering “How long, Lord?” – I need to remember that the God of Peace is with me now, filling my life with good things now. All I have to do is recognize it with a grateful heart.
If we do this:
“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24)
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalms 4:8)