“These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 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 29:1-2,4-7
Being captured by force and taken into a foreign land could strike anyone with paralysis, grief, or disdain, yet the Lord tells Israel not just to make the best of their exile, but to thrive in it. His sovereign plan would unfold. He would not abandon them in their pain and sorrow and He would use this time to teach them of Himself and to wean them from foreign gods. His ways are good, even when we see them superficially as disruptive, disconcerting, or even miserable.
When God plants us in a strange or uncomfortable place, an unfamiliar city that is our new home, a tenuous work situation with an incorrigible supervisor or where we are expected to do what is unethical, a diagnosis that turns all future plans topsy turvy, a seemingly impossible relationship, He says build, live, plant, increase, pray for the welfare of that hard place. Rather than chafe against where He has me, I am to press into it, invest in it, grow and bear fruit from it, pray that all good will result from it. And He gives His good promises to encourage me.
“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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
Father, many are the plans of my mind, but it is Your purpose that will stand. Teach me abounding contentment and joy in any situation and every circumstance You place me. Your counsel stands forever, the plans of Your heart to all generations. O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure, and You will do them to the end. (Proverbs 19:21; Philippians 4:11-12; Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 25:1)