Jeremiah warned Israel that Nebuchadnezzar’s armies were coming, and they had to surrender. If they surrendered, they would be safe. But they refused. So, nearly the entire population were taken captive to Babylon. It looked like total disaster. They had lost everything. And that was the context of Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles, Jeremiah 29.
His letter is all about being positive. It was “Get on with your life! Put your heart into this place where you are now! Pray for the prosperity of your captors!” (Jeremiah 29:7).
Why? Because God was saying that what they thought was disaster for them, what looked like defeat, abandonment, humiliation – was not disaster in His eyes. God had plans for them, personally. And those plans were that His people should turn back to their God, longing for Him, wanting to obey Him and seeking Him with all their hearts.
The only way God was going to get those people to seek Him with all their hearts was to take drastic action. Have you noticed how he does this with us? The disaster comes. Whatever that disaster looks like for me, it stops me in my tracks. I may be thrown into confusion, loss, or pain. I can either kick out in anger, collapse in a devastated heap, be angry with God … Or I can accept that, even in this, God knows that my world has been shaken to the core. And now he wants all my attention - to seek Him with all my heart.
We often quote Joel 2:25 where God says He will repay the years the locusts have taken. It’s when the locusts have swept through and destroyed everything that God promises to restore. How? He uses those times of devastation, loss, and defeat, to bring us deeper into Him.
My testimony is that God is so faithful. What looks like disaster God does use for His glory, when we accept where we are and what has happened and when it causes us to seek God with all our heart. And just look at His amazing promise: ‘I will be found by you, declares the LORD’ (Jeremiah 29:14).
Prayer: Thank You, God, that You long for me to love You deeply and closely and intimately. When the bad things happen in my life, please help me, at that point, to turn to You so that those times of distress and pain may become my opportunity to know You in a deeper way. Amen.
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