How can we successfully make a comeback and move forward … even when something bad happens?
It starts by remembering that God is thinking good things about us. There may be times when it is also necessary for us to reflect honestly about ourselves … how are we doing? Do we need to repent and change in some area of our lives?
“I’m thinking good things about you” – God
There is a verse of scripture in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah which has inspired millions of believers for several thousand years.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
This is quite a promise in Jeremiah 29:11! But do you know the setting — the time and circumstances of the people to whom these words were first spoken?
The southern kingdom of Judah was invaded and taken into Babylonian captivity. It was devastating. People lost everything. They were displaced against their will. They were not only invaded by a formidable power, they were then forcibly taken into custody in a foreign land.
And here’s what may be the most painful aspect of it all … they had brought it upon themselves because of their protracted disobedience and rebellion.
God warned them that if they disobeyed, instead of being chased down with blessing, they would be overtaken with the effects of the curse. In time this included being overrun by a foreign power and taken into captivity.
A better future is on the horizon
In his love and covenant commitment, God would severely correct his people and purify the nation again. But it’s always with the longer view in mind.
Even when something bad happens, the eventual outcome can be surprisingly better.
The promise is that the Lord has plans of success and a hope-filled future. God has restoration on his mind even as his people are being taken into captivity for a time!
Never stop reminding yourself that God is good
This is a reality, a cornerstone truth we must keep at the top of our thinking: God is good.
We have to stay focused to advance forward successfully when something bad happens. Here’s what makes it so challenging … we live in a world which has been severely degraded because of disobedience. This is the big picture of the human experience. We live our lives in a fallen context where bad things happen, even random things that are not a consequence of our own decisions.
Of course the temptation remains … the Creator is not good, he does not have our best interests at heart, and he’s holding out on us. Know that the integrity of the Creator is constantly being challenged (see Eve’s dialogue with evil in Genesis 3:1-24).
But don’t allow your mind to be led astray!
- Review scriptures that proclaim the goodness of God. There are many of them! Confess them out loud. Study people and situations in the scriptures which clearly reveal that God is good and he has our best interests in mind, even when bad things happen. Even including when they happen as a consequence of our disobedience.
- Gratitude is key. Especially when we don’t feel like it, begin to thank the Creator. Stay with it. You’ll begin to feel a dark energy that is trying to lead your mind astray begin to weaken. I guarantee it. A new positive energy will place it.
Making a comeback: 2500 year-old keys that work today
Even while the people were in captivity, God had a vision that they were to advance and increase! Just as he spoke to those from Judah, God speaks to us today. See if you can embrace these keys following a setback.
You can make a comeback!
- Build houses and live in them (Jer. 29:5 ESV). Build. See yourself as a builder. Even when something happens you don’t like, keep building your life. A “house” can speak of your entire life. Lead your life with a vision of success in mind. If you set your heart in this way, your own understanding will prompt you on how to do this. Others who are close to you may help you too on how you can advance forward.
- Plant gardens and eat their produce (Jer. 29:5 ESV). We may not like what has happened. Keep sowing and cultivating anyway. Continue thinking about the future and the increase to come. And eat! Enjoy the harvest of your investment along the way, even as you expect your complete restoration. Don’t wait for the future. God has a way of allowing you to begin enjoy the harvest, even as you expect bigger things to come!
- 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 decrease (Jer. 29:6 ESV). God says to multiply and not to decrease. He want us to think generationally. There are many ways we can live generationally. Don’t just think about the drama in your face, or the latest news. God wants to develop us in over-the-horizon thinking.
- Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jer. 29:7 ESV). God wants us to seek the improvement of everything, even when something has happened we do not like. As we add value to everyone and everything we can, we find it is beneficial to us.
- You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes … (Jer. 29:13-14 ESV). When we put all of our heart into the one that is most important, we will enjoy the dividends of our investment. He rewards those who seek Him (see Heb. 11:6)!
So what will you do?
It really does not matter what the specifics of our situation may be. It could be something very personal in our lives. It could be relationships or our business or career. Or it may be something that is much larger like an organization, community, or nation.
Maybe it’s an outcome of our own doing. Or maybe it’s not us. It’s just the effect of living in a world which is not ideal at this time.
What really matters is what God can do when we respond to him in a healthy way. Consistently remember … God is good.
Consider these verses in Jeremiah 29. Embrace the mystery of faith. The time will come when things will reset and get better.
Q4U: Think about it. When something bad happens, in what ways can you work these principles from Jeremiah 29 into your experience to make a comeback?