By Dr. Daniel Stahl

Have you heard this verse before, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”? (Jeremiah 29:11) It has been an encouraging verse to many people, especially when they were going through a tough time or had to make a hard decision. It has been very meaningful to me, especially as I understood more of the context.

God sent this wonderful promise through Jeremiah to the surviving Jewish captives who were taken alive back to Babylon after Jerusalem had been destroyed. Thousands of their countrymen died and their glorious temple was destroyed as part of God’s judgement against His people for their disobedience and sin. The consequence of their disobedience was tempered with the promise of future restoration and blessing.

While repentance, confession, and faith in Jesus’ atonement gives every sinner or offender Biblical grounds for a clear conscience before God; freedom and relief from the consequences of one’s sins may not be realized as quickly. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that our actions will not reap negative consequences. A right standing with God does not automatically equate to a right standing with people either.

These Children of God were spared, but exiled to a “land of consequence” where they experienced God’s mercy, grace, and prosperity. Likewise, we may feel like exiles from our previous relationships and “land,” but God is still at work to accomplish His plans and purposes for us and through us. There is always a crop to be reaped when we plant seeds of any type.

The key to prospering in a “land of consequence” is to plant new seeds, good seeds, and faithful seeds now. God’s mercy and grace is great to the one who repents and cries out to God, and they must cultivate faithfulness by planting new seeds. One positive seed to plant would be this positive confession, “Father, thank you for the plans you have for me, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give me a hope and a future.” It’s not about your past, but about God’s promise.