“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)
During the time of the corona virus, I was reminded of other times in my life when I felt stuck. Have you ever had times in your life before when you felt stuck? Maybe feeling like there was no way out of the circumstances you found yourself in? I would dare say that most everyone, at some time or other in their lives, have felt this way, even before we were told to stay home because of a pandemic.
In Jeremiah, Chapter 29, God is speaking to a remnant of His people who had been exiled into Babylon. They had been warned over and over that God would scatter them and send them into captivity if they would not repent of their sins. The people refused to heed the warning and continued living in sin until God made good on His promise.
God spoke to Jeremiah and told him to take the people a message. God told the people that even though they were being held as captives, they were to build houses, plant crops, allow their children to marry and have families. They were even told to pray for their captors and to live peaceably among them, and to help the city to prosper. I would think that this message wasn’t exactly what they wanted to hear. The people would be longing to return to their homes, their own land. But God told them it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
I can think of a couple present day sayings that someone could have said to them, like, “Bloom where you’re planted,” or, “You got yourself into this situation, now just make the best of it.” Not exactly the encouraging or supportive things you want to hear when the place you’re in is unfamiliar and binding.
But God didn’t say those things. In Jeremiah 29:10, God tells the people that at the end of 70 years He would bring them out of exile and back into their homeland. That was a long time, but at least they knew there would be an end of their exile. They had a hope, an assurance that things would be better. In fact, not only would things be better at the end of their period of exile, but God told them in verse 7, that if they did what He told them to do, to settle down and to seek the prosperity of Babylon, then they would also prosper as the city prospered. So even in the middle of their situation, God was still planning to bless them.
Sometimes we do find ourselves in hard situations. It could be because we are reaping the consequences of sin like the Israelites. At other times, those hard places are not because of sin in our lives, but because God is allowing those things to happen in order to teach us something. Whatever the case may be, if we will look to God, strive to be faithful to Him and do the things He has asked us to do in spite of our time of trouble, then He will bring us through that situation.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love! Thank You for the forgiveness You offer when we come to You in repentance. I praise You for promising that even when things are hard, You are still with us and desire to bless us. May we always seek after You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.