This passage is a fave among Christians. It is a statement of comfort and assurance that God has the best intentions for us; that He will never do anything that will harm us; that we can hope in Him and that there is a bright future ahead of us.
Yet it is not about Him being a genie to us; that we could ask anything we want, anytime we want and anyhow we like it to be. It is not just about being optimistic and having a positive outlook in all of life. Why is that? Because life is not a bed of roses… Even a Christian’s life. Do you know that the background of this passage was that God wanted the Israelites to go into exile? This promise of good will and best intentions was uttered in the midst of hard times. God told Israel to go and serve a foreign king, to be away from home, to plant and build houses in a place not their own, not for just a month or a year or even for a season but for 70 years. How hard it must be – to be forced into exile – make a home away from home! OFWs – overseas Filipino workers know best of this plight and this sentiment of being homesick and longing to be back among familiar people and familiar places.
Hence, God’s plans to prosper and not to harm are not what man thinks them to be. His plans of hope and a future – a good future may not seem to us to be bright at the moment of suffering and ‘not so ideal’ of times. Yet God’s statement of promise has a part 2:
“You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’ While part 1 is all about what God, his plans for us and what He will do for us, part 2 is about what we do and his response to our actions. There are two actions which He wants and likes us to do: call and seek. This passage is about a two-way relationship and a bilateral agreement. God’s purpose and desires is for us to love Him. How? by yearning to be near Him… How? People know we love someone because we like to talk to him, to be near him, to always look for him. Just like a child seeks after his father.. just like a child often wants to go tell his father stuffs and asks for things… The child knows for sure that his father listens carefully. It does not mean that his father gives him everything he wants. But there is comfort to know that his father knows and that his father would never turn him away.
Indeed God knows what He’s doing. His plans are never to harm us but to give hope and a future – hope for something better, a future of something bright. This promise gives comfort because it was given in the hardest of times. God’s plan is for us to call on Him and seek Him with all our heart.