Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse often quoted and found on bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets, but I have found that not many people are aware of what is actually being told to us. Jeremiah had spent 40 years calling the nation of Israel to clean up their act. In Jeremiah chapter 7 we are told that the people are practicing idolatry and injustice. Specifically, immigrants, orphans and widows were suffering and weren’t being cared for. In addition, many of the people were worshipping the gods of the neighboring countries. I’m guessing few, if any of us reading this have actual idols in our homes, many of us worship things like jobs, education, bank accounts and such. The Bible doesn’t condemn these things, but it does make it clear that things like these are gifts from God and aren’t things to be worshipped. Jeremiah was specific in his warning. Turn away from what you’re doing, or these things will be taken from you and you will be carried away to serve another country. Jeremiah warned. The people didn’t listen. Babylon carried most of the people away.
Jeremiah and some of the people were left in Jerusalem but many were exiled to Babylon. Eventually, Jeremiah received news about the exiles. They had two differing lines of thought. Some of the religious leaders and elites were saying, “Yes, we were doing things that were wrong, but we are still God’s chosen. Don’t unpack your bags. We’re going home. Maybe today.” The second group was saying, “We aren’t going to unpack. We’re going to curl up and die.” They believed they had done wrong, and God had abandoned them. All hope was gone.
Lately I have been seeing two different responses from people in recovery. One group says, “In my addiction I did some terrible things, but I was in addiction and I shouldn’t have to suffer any major consequences.” The second group says, “In my addiction I have screwed everything up and life is over.” To me, this sounds very similar to the people in exile. Jeremiah 29 is a letter he sent to respond to the two groups in exile and I think it has a clear message for us in recovery. He begins by telling the people, right now, where you’re at, build houses, plant fields, get married, and work for the well-being of the place you’re at. Life isn’t over. He goes on to warn those that are saying they shouldn’t experience any consequence for their actions. He reminds them that they were told there would be 70 years of captivity. My experience has been that when I do dumb or unhealthy things there are always consequences. Sometimes I experience them. Sometimes friends and family experience them, but there are always consequences.
This is the point when Jeremiah 29:11 comes in.
Jeremiah 29:10-11 CSB
 For this is what the LORD says: “When seventy years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you”-this is the LORD’s declaration-“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
So, what’s the message behind the verse. Yes, you screwed up. Yes, there are consequences. Yes, you still have a future. This message became a word of hope to me 14 years ago when I went to prison because of behavior connected to my addiction. I was curled up on a bunk, consumed by hopelessness and depression when I picked up a Bible and read this story. A couple weeks ago I celebrated 12 years since I walked out of prison. Has everything since been easy? No. But I have clung to the words of these verses and today, I am living my best life.
If you are facing the consequences of actions and you have lost hope in tomorrow, let’s talk. Consequences are real. Consequences can be painful. But hope is real too. Shoot me an email at email@example.com.