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. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Many people have thought or been told that God just wants them to be happy, implying that God will give us what we want, when we want it, and how we want, regardless of what else is happening in our lives. One of the scriptures that gets quoted for this idea is above. While God certainly does want us to prosper and have hope and a future, the context of this verse gives us a better understanding of how to interpret it well, and not in an incorrect or oversimplified way. It is by looking at the broader passage (Jeremiah 29:10-14) that we can see the big picture of this particular promise, to prosper and do well over all time despite the consequences currently faced. We are called to apply God’s Word in our lives, but to do so faithfully, we must look beyond single verses and search for the bigger picture.
Today, study other verses that stand out to you and read their broader passages to gain more context about them. What new things can you learn from seeking more information about them?