The Power of “After” (when you’re still in the middle)

Have you ever had one of those dreams where your entire night is spent looking for something? The search is futile and frustrating. Sometimes I wake up from dreams like that with such a sense of sadness and loss. I was thinking about that this week in contrast to this promise the Lord gave to His people:

“You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you” — this is the Lord’s declaration…

Jeremiah 29:13-14a

He is not like that lost thing we search for in our sleeping hours. (Maybe some of us spend too much time hunting for lost things in our waking hours too, but that’s a different story.)

The surrounding verses in that chapter of Jeremiah hold some amazing promises! In context, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has just deported a bunch of God’s people from Jerusalem to Babylon. They have been uprooted and brought into captivity in this foreign land, and the prophet Jeremiah has some surprising news for them. They would probably like to have heard some comforting words about a quick deliverance and homecoming, but instead he tells them that the Lord wants them to settle down and get comfortable. They are going to be there awhile. BUT (and it’s a big but!) God knows what He’s doing. He’s working out a detailed planned. It’s under His control. They are not forgotten!

“For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 CSB

I have read Jeremiah 29:11 countless times, but not until this week did I read it in Hebrew. Two things popped out at me. The first is the word for “plans” (sometimes translated as “thoughts”). It’s a form of the word that is now used for “computer” in modern Hebrew. God has the future figured out, calculated, under control! It’s not some willy-nilly, fuzzy dream for the days ahead that may or may not go according to plan. God has a plan, a detailed plan! That gives me peace. And He is bigger and better than any man-made logarithm that could dictate my days!

Secondly, the word translated “future” is basically the Hebrew word for “after” or “later” or “end.” Sometimes that’s just what we need — an “after.” When we find ourselves in an obscure, interim place where “The old is not old enough to have died away; the new is still too young to be born” as the poet John O’Donohue puts it, we long for the assurance of an “after.” We don’t even care if it’s a happily ever after. We just need to know there’s another side, that all of this is taking us somewhere. Let me remind you that it is! It’s safe to entrust your future to God. His plans are for you, not against you. He loves you and wants you to find Him. Search for Him with your whole heart today. Even if you’re afraid it’s over, He’ll dry your tears and show you “where we go from here” like this song of hope says…

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