Bible Reading– Jeremiah 29:1-14
I remember how I would watch my little son get frustrated sometimes. If he was trying unsuccessfully to get something done- like to fit in a toy in a specific way or to get his bicycle out of a tight corner- and couldn’t do it, he would get angry, stop everything, and sit down somewhere on the floor either crying or venting.
‘Why are you crying?’
‘Because I cant do it!!!’ He shouts in his loudest tone.
‘Then ask for help!’
It’s the crippling power of the frustration for me. It’s amazing how frustration can cripple anyone. You just don’t see the point in trying anymore. You wake up and lack any bit of energy to even get out of bed. You don’t see reason to have a plan for the rest of the year. You can become so familiar with need and limitation that your default mode is a heart posture of lack and limitation, not of vision,
We live in a fallen planet, and are not always in control of the state of the nation where we find ourselves- or even in the choice of nation we are in.
Our reading today is a classic example of God’s chosen people being in a bad place. They had been taken in exile to Babylon and lived everyday in that crippling frustration of something not working. They were not where they wanted to be. They desperately wanted to relocate.
God sends them a message. He clearly doesn’t want them living everyday overwhelmed by the frustrations of being in a place that they don’t want to be. He doesn’t want them postdating their joy and fulfilment till when they relocate out of Babylon. God sends them a message of hope. You are probably familiar with verse 11 of our reading:
I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 CEB
But the whole message is God making a specific invitation to His people to do four things in a nation where they don’t even want to be, whilst they are there. I think these four things will also apply to us wherever we are right now:
- Be productive and be fruitful:
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Jeremiah 29:5 ESV
We must spend everyday on the front foot of building and pursuing productivity, not sitting down in the crippling frustrations. God calls us to actively engage our hands in the places where we find ourselves at each time.
- Seek the good of the land:
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:7 ESV
We must not allow offence and bitterness move us to being apathetic. We must pray. It must matter to us what’s going on in the nation. We must seek to do what we can to help. We must speak up where we can and act in every way we can. God’s best bet to change a dark place is to put his people who are light in it.
- Be forward focused
Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. Jeremiah 29:6 ESV
In essence, God is saying ‘don’t stop your lives!’ We must not become so myopic because of what’s around us. We must not stop short of thinking towards and investing towards another generation. We must live forward.
4. Seek God in this.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
Again, like we learnt yesterday, we must see the instrumentality of the nations in pointing us to God, not away from Him.
I wonder where you are reading this from: You may be in a bad land, but he is still a good God. You may be in a far away land, but He is never a far away God. You may be in a very different nation, but He is the same good and loving God. His promise remains that we will find Him if we seek Him with all our heart.
May your bad Babylon be a good season for you. Amen.