“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29: 5-7
This was a message from God given to Jeremiah. The Israelites were in the midst of great suffering: told they were going to be exiled with the Babylonians for 40 years. They were looking for a quick fix, something to make them feel better, to convince them it wasn’t as bad as Jeremiah was telling them it would be. The people were seeking comfort in lies like Ananias’, who was giving the people false hope about an early recovery.
But God would follow through with the peoples’ consequence. They would carry out their forty-year sentence. Yet one thing remained true: He was not abandoning His people.
Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For 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.’”
In this present day and age, it’s easy to feel like the world is coming to an end. We feel hopelessness and despair around every corner. Fear exists in every story on the news. Yet, we are not abandoned. Yet, there is still hope.
It’s easy in times like this to stop living. To shut everything down, to board up the windows, to hide and endure the ensuing end of the world. But that’s not what we’re made for. We’re not made to stop living, regardless of the outside conditions.
God told the Israelites as much, as they were taken off to Babylon. He told them to marry, to build homes, even to seek prosperity for the Babylonians. They were not to close themselves off, to live in misery, to stop living. They were to find the small things that bring joy, to have children, to grow a garden, to continue marrying, and to prosper.
I can’t help but think that’s what he wants for us too. Not to forget what is going on in the world. Not to pretend like it’s not happening. But to trust Him through it because He will meet us even in the pain and suffering, even in the exile.
by Sydney Shrimpton
Dear Lord, Please be with us as we continue to live our days. Let us see the hope that comes from knowing you. Help us to feel empowered by your grace, to continue to reach out to people, to seek prosperity that comes from You alone. Let us not fear, but trust. Amen.