I can’t tell you what Pastor was preaching on when he read Jeremiah 29:11, for at the moment I heard the New King James translation of this verse, I was flooded with questions, wonder, and curiosity. God has been taking me on a journey to discover his thoughts toward me. This translation of Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I began to see this verse in a different light than just “God has eternal purposes for our lives.”
Although this verse was originally written to God’s children, Israel, in exile, it still has eternal truth in our lives today. Being grafted into the promises of Israel, we too can cling to this promise about God’s plans, purposes, and thoughts toward us. Though we may experience spiritual bondage and exiled separation from God, He has a plan of deliverance! As Paul puts it in Romans 8, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So, no matter where you are at, no matter how difficult and lost you may feel, you are not out of God’s deliverance! He has a firmly established plan and purpose that only He could think up for you, and for me!
This word “thought” in Jeremiah 29 has also been translated as purpose and plan. It is a device or invention of God’s mind that He has resolved to accomplish. It is something He has set in motion and firmly established for His children. In Psalm 139, David compares God’s thoughts to grains of sand, “How precious to me are your thoughts, Oh God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” So, God thinks billions of billions of thoughts toward us every day. In fact, a conservative estimate of all the sand on earth would put God’s thoughts at close to a trillion per second for every second of your life! And each thought is not just a whimsical thought, but it is all part of His plan for our lives, which He has firmly established and resolved to accomplish in us.
Now Jeremiah describes these thoughts with a very powerful Hebrew word: shalom. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace (thoughts of Shalom) and not of evil…” We often hear shalom and think of the Hebrew greeting and peace. It is so much more than that. Shalom is the wholeness of God. Shalom speaks to being whole and healed in the physical body. Shalom speaks of being whole in the mind, which is where we get the idea of peace. Shalom is being at peace in our covenant relationship with God. Shalom is being content in God. Shalom is being safe and secure.
So if we were to put all of that into this verse, it would say, “For I know the plans, purposes, decrees, and thoughts that I think and speak and firmly establish over you, declares the Lord. And these thoughts will bring you to a place of peace and rest in me, to a place of healing, prosperity, and wholeness, to a place of peace and contentment, to a place where everything I have designed for you in your body, mind, and soul can actually happen. These thoughts are not going to destroy you; they are not going to bring wickedness, pain, hurt, anxiety, or stress upon you. These thoughts are instead going to give you a future and a hope, something to look forward to with expectation.”
The promise doesn’t end there, though. God goes on to say that when we begin to see his shalom invading our lives, we will turn toward Him and seek after Him. The more we seek Him, the more we will find Him.
When God starts speaking His thoughts toward you, it is powerful. He is speaking to the whole of what He created you to be. Just as He spoke at creation and it became, when God begins to speak out His thoughts toward you, it will be a firmly established promise for you. Write it down and declare it, and see that thought begin to become your identity because these billions of thoughts that He thinks per second are designed to bring you into the fullness of who God created you to be.
Don’t believe me? Ask God to speak out His thoughts toward you and see how it brings you into the fullness of Shalom in your body, mind, soul, and identity. I’ve only begun this journey with Him.