These words are sent by Jeremiah as God’s message to His people in exile. They had been through trauma. They had lost everything: homes, belongings, livelihood, loved ones, their land. Everything was gone. They were now refugees in hostile territory.
But Jeremiah’s letter is all about positive living in a situation that looks like disaster. What’s the advice? Get on with life! Start again with work, your family, your home! Don’t be moping around with regret. Make relationships, contribute energetically to your community, look to the future of your children, and work and pray for the land and the people where you are.
Then it goes on, ‘Don’t listen to those who say differently! God says, “I have plans for you – as a nation and as a people – plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Seventy years of exile are coming first. I haven’t forgotten you. It will happen. In the meantime, live positively where I’ve put you”’ (Jeremiah 29:8-11, my paraphrase).
How can God’s people live positively in Babylon, in exile? They can do it because God has declared He has a purpose for them, and He has not forgotten them. They are God’s people, living on His promises. And they can be confident that God is in control and will bless them, if they do as He commands.
We have the same God. He has made great promises to us. He promises us a future and a hope. We can be confident in our all-knowing and loving Father. We can take hold of His Word to us. We can live with the kind of deep-down peace He gives us as we trust Him.
God spoke words of hope to the exiles. It was a word to cause them to lift their heads up high. I bet it wasn’t easy. But it would have been life-changing.
Here we are, right now, experiencing an international pandemic. All of us are affected by this. There has been tragedy and disappointment. For some it has been disaster, agonising loss, heartache and pain. I believe that, in this situation, where we are, God would still speak to us those words of hope.
Prayer: Thank You, God, that You know everything about my situation. Thank You that You have good plans for my life, to give me a future and a hope. I choose today to turn towards You and to live with thanksgiving in my heart today, trusting Your promises, Your faithfulness and Your love. Amen.
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