“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” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Chances are, you’ve seen this verse a thousand times. So have I. But over the past couple of days, I’ve seen it with a different perspective. You see, almost every time I hear this verse, it’s the translation that reads “plans” instead of “thoughts.” There’s nothing wrong with either one, but the word “thoughts” has hit me recently.
I’ve been struggling with negative thoughts. Against myself. My imperfections. My weaknesses. And as I read this verse, I realize that God thinks positive thoughts about me. In other words, I don’t think of myself the same way God does. And that’s scary!
This particular version of Jeremiah 29:11 begins touching me last Friday morning. During this time, I open my prayer journal for the first time in days. Hey, there are times when prayer isn’t merely an option; rather, it’s the only way over a hurdle. And this morning is a prime example.
So I begin writing, “I’m struggling, God. With thoughts. And it is wearing me out. You know my heart, God. Yes, I make mistakes—even when I don’t really mean what I do, but you are full of grace. Father, help me think about myself and others like you do.”
Have you ever bought a Christian journal—probably one that looks girly—only to find the pages already covered in inspirational scriptures or quotes? Christian publishers have a habit of this—and yes, they also have a habit of making more girl journals than guy journals. But that’s neither here nor there.
The page in my guy journal upon which those words are written is a Bible verse. Not just any Bible verse. Jeremiah 29:11. And trust me, I notice it last Friday—so much so that I draw an arrow from the abovementioned prayer to the scripture. Not just any version of that scripture, either. The version alluding to “thoughts.”
Coincidence? I think not.
The next morning, I open my Bible to Jeremiah. I read some of the verses next door to this one. And I see something else. I realize that the Israelites are being held in Babylonian captivity when God speaks Jeremiah 29:11 to his people. Yes, captivity. And I feel as if I can currently relate. Actually, one of the reasons why I’ve been struggling with negative thoughts is because of stressful circumstances.
Jeremiah 29 tells a little story about captivity, and through that captivity, God tells a story about the positive thoughts He has about His people.
I find this interesting. Through the strenuous situations of life. The stress, busyness, and trials. When I’m in captivity—the very point in life when negative thoughts try to win, my God lets me know that He’s thinking positive thoughts about my life and future.
Maybe that’s why Paul says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Hold your thoughts captive before your thoughts hold you captive.
God knows our thoughts are vulnerable to negativity during difficulty. But during these times, He reminds us of how positive His thoughts are toward us. In high hopes, I’m sure, that we—His children—think of ourselves the same way He thinks of us.