A Prayer about Providence and Hardship
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11
Dear heavenly Father, this well-loved Scripture underscores the fact that there’s no other god as merciful and gracious, and engaged and mighty, as you. Your forbearance is immeasurable; your kindness is inexhaustible; your plans are irrepressible.
When your people received this letter of encouragement from Jeremiah, they were quite discouraged in Babylon—in exile, feeling bereft, bewildered, even betrayed by you. Yet we know by your own testimony, Father, that when you lead us into difficult seasons, it’s not to punish us, but to prosper us; it’s not to bring us harm but to give us hope. When you discipline us, it’s not to send us into the “doghouse” of your displeasure, but it’s a sign of your great affection.
It’s comforting to remember, as this verse states, that you always know exactly what you are doing with your people. You know the plans you have for us—individually and corporately. There’s no happenstance in heaven; you don’t make up things as you go along. You’re not a God who reacts out of irritation, but one who always acts out of great affection. There are no coincidences, just providences. “Stuff” doesn’t just happen; sovereignty is always happening.
Father, this way of thinking would be utter madness if you never sent Jesus—a big-time spitting into the wind; the spin of all spins; delusional at best, demonic at worst. But Jesus is the bold “Yes!” to every promise you’ve made. His life, death, and resurrection are the guarantee of our gospel prosperity, living hope, and glorious future. Apart from Jesus there is only unimaginable hopelessness. Because of Jesus there is joy unspeakable.
So bring the truth, grace, and power of this gospel into our current situations, into our personal stories of pain, into the brokenness our local churches, and into the needs of our communities.
Turn our sighs into songs, our cynicism into servanthood, and our grumblings into the rumblings of a coming visitation of the Holy Spirit. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and compassionate name.