Very often I hear or read of someone saying to those who are going through a difficult time, “Don’t worry. God has a plan for you. He will take care of you.” While the thoughts and intents behind such a statement are both true and comforting it seems that the scripture used to promote such an idea is often used out of context. Very often the scripture quoted is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I [God] 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.”
What is often overlooked is the context of that statement. That is one verse pulled out of a letter that was written by God’s prophet Jeremiah to the Jews that had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians under king Nebuchadnezzar. What God wants those in captivity to know is that 1) they are there for a purpose (as punishment for their idolatry, unfaithfulness, and disregard for God’s laws) and 2) their punishment will not last forever. There is a time limit of seventy years. After that time is completed they will be returned to the land from which they came (Jer 29:10). That promise was fulfilled when king Cyrus, king of the Medo-Persian Empire issued his decree (2 Chron 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:2-4). In the meantime the captives are to make the best of their situation. They are to build houses, plant gardens, marry, and raise families so that they may increase “and not be diminished” (Jer 29:4-6). One thing they are NOT to do is listen to the false prophets that have arisen among them (Jer 29:8, 9).
In reality, the only part of that prophecy that is applicable today is the principle behind the prophecy. God does wish us well and He will see us through whatever the cause of distress may be at the moment, provided we remain faithful to Him. This has remained true of God’s faithful people down through the ages. Getting through a time of distress may not be easy, comfortable, or without struggle, but, with God’s help, it is always doable (1 Cor 10:13; Jas 1:1-18).
But back to God’s plan for you. Yes, it is true that God does have a plan for you, but if you believe that God has some sort of foreordained, predestined plan for your life you would be mistaken. To believe such essentially takes away your free will and that is the basis of Calvinism. The Calvinistic system of belief maintains that if you are chosen for salvation (and only a limited number of people are chosen) there is no action that is required on your part. You have been chosen, unconditionally, from Creation. As a “chosen one” the Holy Spirit will act upon your heart in a direct and “irresistible” manner so that your behavior in life is directed in such a way that you will live a godly life. Furthermore, if you are one of the “chosen” you will live your life in such a way that you cannot/will not sin in such a way as to be eternally lost. God allows us to make choices in our lives and we can “fall from grace” (Gal 5:4) and go back into the “pollutions of the world” (2 Pet 2:20-22). After all, even Peter sinned in such a way that correction by Paul was warranted (Gal 2:11-21).
But the final answer is yes, God does have a “plan” for your life. It is the same plan that He has for everyone. It is God’s desire that everyone be saved (1 Tim 2:4). And because He is unwilling that any should perish He is long-suffering toward us so that we have opportunity to repent, but He will keep His promises (2 Pet 3:9).
God’s plan for all people is that everyone should hear the gospel message (Mat 28:19; Mk 16:15), that everyone should believe in His Son, Jesus, the Christ (Mk 16:16; Jn 3:16; 8:24; Rom 10:9, 10), that everyone should repent of their sins (Lk 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38, 3:19), that everyone should confess their belief in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (Mat 10:32, 33; Acts 8:37; Rom 10:9, 10), that everyone should be baptized into Christ for the remission/forgiveness of their sins (Mat 28:19; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:38; 22:16; Rom 6:3-7; Gal 3:27-29; Col 2:11, 12), and that everyone live faithfully to Him so that at the end of this life they may receive the crown of righteousness/eternal life (Jn 14:1-6; 2 Tim 4:6-8; Titus 2:11-15; Heb 12:1, 2; Rev 2:10).
Yes, God has a plan for you. It is simple, straightforward, and doable for every person. He never expects more of us than we can deliver, but He does expect of us what we can do (Mat 25:14-30). May you seek God’s will, find God’s will, and do God’s will in your life.