As with a lot of scriptures that are wildly popular, the few verses that come before that are usually ignored …and poof, there goes the context. I love this particular verse but recently I’ve found myself engrossed in the few verses that precede it.

Jeremiah 29:5-6,11 AMPC

Build yourselves houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit of them. [6] Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not be diminished. [11] For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

God had some interesting instructions to give before giving the thought that is Jeremiah 29:11. There are two things that I’ve found encouraging in this passage.

Firstly, He asks them to plant gardens and eat the fruit, to get married… It almost sounds as if He was saying ‘enjoy the moment’. Quite a scandalous instruction considering they were captives. It’s hardly the group of people you want to be telling to enjoy the moment (That’s how you get stoned around here). Sometimes things get so hard that the thought of enjoying life will not particularly be on the agenda. Is it even possible to find some sort of comfort whilst you’re in the middle of a terrible storm ?

“Even in hard times there’s a possibility to have fun.”
Eyden I., Woman’s Book: Only For Men

Secondly He asks them to increase and not be diminished. The context ? ..their population, but it had me thinking.(back to stroking my imaginary beard and looking all pensive) Challenges have a subtle way of nibbling away a part of you. There are some candles that I’ve allowed hard times to extinguish. It’s possible to lose some of your best parts as you go through life. (another post to come on this issue)

Finally we arrive at what would be the main event of the chapter, “For I know the plans…”  God assures His people that are in captivity that He has plans for their restoration. So how do the previous verses apply to this ? This is how I see it, because He had their future in His hands it allowed them to ‘be still’ in the present. Because I have your future in my hands don’t allow your current hardships to corrode the treasure you have inside of you. He basically says to them ‘Enjoy yourselves whilst you are still in that place, don’t lose yourselves, I’ve got you’.

“Peace doesn’t deny difficulty, but it has an inner calm and quietness even while enduring the difficulty.”
Glenn C. Stewart

I could go on and on because, well, I talk a lot but the point I’m fighting to get to is this. There will be times when you are not okay, there will be times when you don’t feel like going on and that’s okay. Whatever happens though, don’t let your sorroundings determine your inside. Don’t lose yourself in life’s storms. Hold on to your light, hold on to your passions, hold on to your laughter.