Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Building Homes and Finding Hope

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

Let's paint a picture.....

Jeremiah had been prophesying the Word of God and warning the people God gave him that captivity and exile were inevitable as the result of their way-ward behavior.  And, what do ya know, he was right. 

The false prophets tried to shrug this off and tell the people they wouldn't be gone that long.  No Worries.

Re-enter Jeremiah and his "Letter to the Exiles" where he expressly says, 'get comfortable, it's gonna be a while.... a looooong while.'  Like, long enough to get married and have kids and build a life... that kind of while.  He even tells them to Build homes!!  Well, God tells them, He uses Jeremiah to deliver the message.  Building a home is a serious, long-term commitment.

Truly though, being in the bleakest situation of their lives as a nation, this letter, found in Jeremiah 29:1-23 is a beautiful letter of encouragement.  Like the good Father God is, he must punish His disobedient children, but He does not forsake them.... he still plants a sprig of hope and waters it with encouragement to get them through the dark days ahead. (Do read the whole letter, link in text, you will see what I mean)

As I meditated on this Word recently I felt God reminding me of the correlation to my own life.  Especially the last 4 years.  Granted, my displacement is not a 'punishment' for sin, rather, I am where I am because God called us to travel and then planted us here, in south-central Montana, not knowing a soul in the world in this place.

Since we have been here we have known some of our deepest heart-aches and faced some of our toughest challenges as Christians.  We have never been more tempted to loose hope or more discouraged in the plight of the church body.  We even contemplated our escape for a time!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
- Jeremiah 29:11 

Yet, at every turn, we have seen and continue to see God.

We see him through songs and Scripture and 'random' calls and emails from friends far away who felt the need to encourage us.

We see him through His provision of home and vehicles and jobs which sustain us pressed down and poured out.

We see him when our children, who should be causalities of this war we face, are instead growing and thriving in their faith and understanding of His Word and what it is to be in relationship with Him.

We see him.
We trust him.
We know him.

And while we don't always know or understand what He is doing, we can be encouraged to not give up, not loose strength or hope or purpose because His purpose is being fulfilled each day we get up and step out.

We build our houses.
We grow our families.
We pray for this place.

This is God's place and we are sojourners.  He put us here and now and, even if we can't find stable ground in our surroundings, we can find a solid rock in Him and pray as He purposes us to.... as God through Jeremiah purposed the captives to pray for the pagan nation of Babylon.

As I studied up for this week's word, I was thumbing through the Chronological Bible for timeline references.  I love what the authors had to say on this section of Jeremiah:
Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Babylon...instructing them to move ahead with their lives and to pray for the pagan nation that enslaved them.  Life cannot grind to a halt during troubled times.  In an unpleasant or distressing situation, we must adjust and keep moving.  You may find it difficult to pray for those in authority if they are evil, but that is when your prayers are most needed.... When you enter times of trouble or sudden change, pray diligently and move ahead, doing whatever you can rather than giving up because of fear and uncertainty. [p1029, Chronological Life Application Study Bible]

Oh, sweet friend, maybe life is trucking along, perfectly great for you today.... I will praise God with you for that!  But perhaps it is not.  Maybe you live in a place you wish were different, whether that is the house or town or state.... maybe you are having a tough time in a relationship whether it be family or friend or church.... Wherever you are today, I pray you would be strengthened by the passages in Jeremiah today which remind us that, #1, these things are temporary and, even if we have to make our homes in this place of trouble for right now, it will pass and #2, God has not abandoned us.  He is present and prepared to hear our prayers and comfort our hearts.  He wants to work through us to those around us and it may very well be through our hurt or physical and/or emotional displacement that He might reach the population at large.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  
I will be found by you, declares the Lord...
- Jeremiah 29:13-14a


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