What do we do when our world is turned upside down? What do we do when all that we know to be true, now seems uncertain. What do we do when we find ourselves in a foreign land? I can imagine that the children of Israel, God’s chosen people, asked these very same questions when they were taken in captivity to Babylon.
One of the wonderful things about our God is that He knows us so well. He knows what we need when we need it. Just as he does with us, He knew that he needed to send a word to the children of Israel to tell them to continue to live even though they were now in captivity. He needed to tell them not to give up and not to despair in the midst of their present situation. So He sends a word by the prophet Jeremiah, in the 29th chapter of the book of Jeremiah, and He tells them to continue to live! He tells them build houses, to plant gardens and eat the fruit that it produces. He tells them to marry and to be fruitful and multiply. He tells them not to decrease, not to die off. He essentially tells them, I know that you are in a difficult place right now, but I want you to make the best of this difficult place and thrive. I want you to take the land which was meant to be your burial ground and flourish. Take the very soil that the enemy meant to use to throw over your grave and use it as the fertilizer for that which will nourish you. He tells the children of Israel to make new beginnings through marriage. He tells them to carry on the lineage and the legacy through the birth of children. He says to be fruitful and multiply! He says to live on in spite of your circumstances. Live on in spite of your situation. Live and not DIE!
Just as God delivered that word to the children of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah, God is saying to us today to LIVE! Continue to live even though you’ve been hurt. Continue to live even though you’ve been abandoned. Continue to live on in spite of your situation and your circumstances. Just as God promised way back in the Old Testament, God promises us today, that not only will you live but you will flourish and increase. And what’s key to note is that the Bible says that you will be increased “THERE”. In other words, you will increase and flourish in the midst of your situation. You will flourish and increase in the very place that your enemy thought you would die. The very place that your enemy thought would take you out will be the very place that God will allow you to grow in influence… to grow in numbers. Your “there” is where you will grow to the place that God will have you to grow in Him. In your foreign land, in the unfamiliar, when you are left alone, when your family has abandoned you, when your friends are all gone, when there is no one left to turn to, God says that He will make provisions so that you are covered, fed and that you are sustained.
For even though it looks bleak right now, even though God has allowed you to be in an uncomfortable situation, God’s promises remain true. God says, I the Lord, the one who has created you and formed you in your mother’s womb; I who have called you and chosen you; I who knows your very thoughts even before you think them. I know the plans that I have for you. Yes, I’ve allowed this situation to be. Yes I’ve allowed you to be carried away into a strange land… a place that is uncomfortable and a place that is foreign and unpleasant. Yes it is I, but you need to know that I know the plans that I have for you. I know the thoughts that I have toward you; thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an expected end. In other words, God knows the plans that he has for your life. Even though you are going through, his plans for your life are still plans of peace, plans to ultimately prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and plans to give you a future!
So during this time of exile, in your place of discomfort, know that the Lord God is still making a way. His promises still stand true! We must make the decision to continue to LIVE even in the midst!