By Kitti Hinkle
This week on A Widow’s Might, we’re focusing on God’s purpose in your life. We started first with Pastor Greg Laurie’s story about asking his little son to choose any toy from a toy store only to be surprised when the boy selected the smallest figurine on a bottom shelf. Pastor Greg really had in mind the most whiz bang toy for his son. It was sitting on the highest shelf. Feel free to turn back to that post to get the full devotion.
Meanwhile, today we talk about what God has in mind for us on His high shelf, and what He meant in Jeremiah about His plans or thoughts for us.
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 hope and a future. (NIV)
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. (KJV)
A dear friend hangs this verse on a plaque in her kitchen. It’s a verse so many of us pen on the insides of cards and letters to encourage one another.
But have you ever noticed how differently it reads in the NIV and King James versions? The King James translation doesn’t say ‘prosper’. It says, “to give you an expected end”.
Prosper is such a buzzword in our culture. Here in America, we value the physical world so much we run a risk of directing the interpretation of this verse solely on God’s plans for our health and wealth here in this world only.
I love to reflect with awe and wonder about the mystery of God’s will for what form that peace (KJV) or prosperity (NIV) will take in my life.
The mysteries of God’s will is a subject that came up last weekend when I visited with ladies at a summer lake house. We talked long into the night, the conversation circling many times to how we claim victory in God’s plans for us through prayer.
A friendly disagreement came up—some of the ladies convinced that the victory we claim is exactly the healing we ask for, that whatever healing we ask will be given when asked in faith. Others wanted to claim God’s goodness and pray for healing, and then simply trust God’s will in allowing seasons of suffering that serve His ultimate purposes.
Their debate lingered in my heart as I later gazed at the plaque in my friend’s kitchen, asking myself a simple question. If His plans are for me to prosper, why am I alone? Why did He allow my husband to die? I’d rather have a husband. Is it His will to allow me to continue suffering? Shouldn’t prayers and obedient living heal all?
I knew the Scriptures themselves would answer this question, but only if I read the verse in context and not let it sit it all by itself on a plaque, open to be misconstrued.
I opened to Jeremiah and read. The very people he wrote to were going through pain. Israelites were being held in captivity in Babylon because of years of turning from God. While all of the captives were Israelites, not all of them were included in the majority who had turned from God. Some of them, including Daniel, were more than obedient and prayerful. Some scholars point out indications in the Book of Daniel that Daniel came from one of the few devout families that refused to worship other idols. Of Daniel and his three companions, John F. Walvoord, long-time president of Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote in a commentary on bible.org <http://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-1-early-life-daniel-babylon> that “…all of their Hebrew names indicate their relationship to the God of Israel, and in the customs of the time, connote devout parents. This perhaps explains why these, in contrast to the other young men, are found true to God: they had godly homes in their earlier years.”
I think about how Daniel must have felt. Was he not loyal to God? Why the suffering?
That question brought me closer to the discussion at the lake about God’s will when bad things happen. Under Who’s will did Daniel remain a captive for so long?
Of course God didn’t author the evil of captivity, no more than He authors the evil which causes sickness or takes away spouses. But through the captivity, God allowed Daniel to carry out His purposes in so many ways. The stories of the lions’ den and the fiery furnace are stories that rivet peoples attention, both when it happened and throughout the world since. His interpretation of dreams gave us valuable prophesies from the Lord.
Purpose accomplished. And all through the suffering of captivity.
What’s your purpose? Is it possible there’s something on the higher shelf the Lord has in store for you?
(This is the second of three parts on this message. Look in the coming days for the next part. We’ll talk about letting go of our own plans in favor of trusting God’s plans. My prayer is that all of us step into His purpose for our living.)