My sister is retiring at the end of this month after 35 years with the same company. It was not necessarily a planned retirement on her part. The company needed to tighten its budget and offered a retirement incentive package to a bunch of employees who were over the age of 55. If not enough people took the company up on its offer, there would then be mandatory layoffs with a less-beneficial financial farewell. So, she took them up on their offer.
As she was cleaning some things out of her office this week, she ran across the gift bag she had stored at work. She took it as a sign from God and posted this on Facebook: “I was cleaning out my credenza drawer this week and came across this gift bag. I nearly fell over! This verse has come up in so many unusual ways this past couple months. I do believe that God is saying something powerful and personal to me.”
The whole verse in full reads:
“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
I see this verse come up once in a while on Facebook and different places, usually posted or quoted when someone is facing a change or uncertainty. It gives them hope in uncertain times. My reaction now is always a bit different than that.
You see, I “gifted” this verse to Jason when he was in high school. I bought a nice picture frame. I typed and printed this verse – typed with a fancy font and printed on fancy paper – and put it in the special frame I had purchased. I gave this gift to Jason as a reminder that his future was in God’s hands and that we believed – as we had from the minute he was born – that God had a special plan for his life. Jason put it on the table right beside his bed, and it was still sitting there the night he died.
So, whenever I see this verse, my quandary since the night Jason died has been: Why didn’t God hear my prayers for Jason’s future, for his protection? My hope, my expectations for Jason and his future are gone. I believed this verse from the bottom of my heart – that God had big plans for Jason, that He would prosper Jason, that God would keep him from harm, that God had future plans for Jason, big plans. We were excited to see what Jason’s future held.
Jason’s future is no more. It ended on March 3rd, 2002 when he was 19 years old. Why didn’t God protect him? Why did Jason’s “plans” end on that night?
I don’t have an answer to these question, even after all this time. I still struggle with my faith. I wish I didn’t, but I do. So many questions. More questions than answers. I wish I believed as strongly and firmly and blindly as I used to. I wish I still strongly believed that God had plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and future. I’m glad people find hope for the future in verses like this. I wish I still did. But my faith was sorely tested by Jason’s death, and sometimes I just don’t know what to do about that, how to “fix” it. I’m trying, but I’m not there yet.
I miss you, Jason, and love you with my whole heart.
© 2019 Rebecca R. Carney