“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…
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 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. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:4-7,10-14
When we are sent to an exile beyond our control, be it a foreign land to live, a strange place of unemployment, isolation, diagnosis, or station in life, the Lord says, ‘Do not waste the places and hardships I assign.’ He has holy purpose for every aspect of our days, and in order to experience the welfare He intends, we are to seek our ‘city’s’ welfare. Pray in every situation, and for it. Make our home there, plant good seeds to bear fruit and benefit those around us, invest in relationships. Do not fritter away the time complaining, longing for former comforts and familiarities and ‘what always was,’ paralyzed in bitterness or worry, regret and what-ifs.
When we dig in, and make the best of where we are, God builds us, teaches us, reveals new aspects of Himself we can adore and trust, and prepares us for the next place in His plan. His promise is for our ultimate good, and we learn in exile that our good is His presence, our wealth His limitless spiritual riches, our freedom His perfect will, our guaranteed security His Spirit’s seal, our future the hope of glory. If these are surely ours, we have every motivation to make the most of present circumstances, to exercise our gifts, to share the glorious light of the gospel. (Ephesians 1:3-11; Colossians 1:27)
What am I intentionally, actively contributing to the lives of those in my ‘city’– be it a physical place or a hard circumstance? With what am I investing, and where, to make an eternal difference? Are there resources and talents at my disposal that I have hoarded for an unknown hour, when God is calling me to contribute now?
Lord, give me Your eyes and heart for wherever I am, and through me bear lasting fruit for Your glory and others’ good.