“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
This message was addressed to the Israelites in exile in Babylon as they were in an unpleasant situation. I (Pastor Niko Njotorahardjo) had my own experience with this verse. When the Lord called me to become a servant of God, I declined. At that time, I was a businessman, not a wealthy businessman, just a regular businessman. But when the Lord called me to become a servant of God, I declined. Why? Because I was afraid to become poor. I had the connotation that pastors/servants of God are poor. I saw how my mother often times accommodated pastors who were poor from villages.
So then what happened? What I feared happened to me! In just a few months everything that I had worked hard for fell into pieces. I had huge debts. I remember at that time, I was 36 years old. I really felt like an Israelite who was in exile in Babylon. I didn’t understand what God’s plan was in my life. One day I was in a Sunday service in Surabaya. Bob Palmer from the United States was the speaker and I sat at the very back of the room. All of a sudden, in the middle of preaching, he came down with his interpreter, and headed towards the back of the room, towards me. He laid hands on Mrs. Hermin and me and said, “The Heaven’s doors are open for you!” Hallelujah! I was elated. However, that prophecy was fulfilled 4 years later! I couldn’t control myself anymore when God spoke to me and told me to give thanks often. I cried and the song “Shout for Joy” came into existence. I first sang this song with a slow beat, why? Because I was crying while singing the song. But now this song has become a praise song. Each song does have a history of its own and this song is now widely known in Japan, Taiwan, China, and other places.
That was my situation at that time. Looking at my current situation, I am able to say, “Amen! I know that God works in all things, pleasant or unpleasant, for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose!” I don’t know your situation. Maybe there are some of us who are just like the Israelites in exile in Babylon. Maybe you are experiencing what I experienced, or even worse. No matter what your situation is, listen to this carefully, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Even though the Lord hasn’t answered our prayers, do not complain, but instead, keep on saying, “Because of your mercy Lord, I am still here today…” Even if our condition is unpleasant, we must give thanks and say, “Because of your grace and mercy Lord, I know that there is something beautiful in store for me, something that is amazing. And I love you, Lord.” Amen, God bless you.
Source: Sermon of Pdt. Niko Njotorahardjo, Article from GBI Gatot Subroto, Jakarta