Reading: Jeremiah 29: 1 and 4-7
The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and hauled off the leaders and gifted people to Babylon as slaves. Many Israelites were the victims of this forced relocation. They found themselves slaves in a strange new place, surrounded by a culture much different from their own. Instead of instructing them to keep isolated, to long to return to Jerusalem, or to rebel, God instead instructs them to settle in, to build homes, to marry off their children. The message is that this is not temporary. To further indicate this God instructs them to begin praying for the Babylonians to prosper.
We too can find ourselves in a strange or foreign place. Sometimes this is physical. Our parent or spouse receives a new job or is transferred and we find ourselves in a new place amongst many new faces. It can be when we head off to college or to our first ‘real job’ and we come to realize we are alone in a new world. Sometimes our new surroundings are emotional. We come home to find out a divorce looms and life is suddenly altered. We receive the phone call that a loved one has passed and life is forever different. Or one day, in the middle of a normal day, we realize that we are lost in life or are just drifting along and we long for an anchor, for a purpose. And, of course, all of these physical and emotional changes affect our spiritual life too.
God instructed the Israelites to become part of their new surroundings. God wanted them to grow, to multiply, to prosper in this new place. When all else was stripped away, all the Israelites had to rely on was God. God was the one constant for the people. In the midst of our own times of exile, God calls out to us as well. When all else seems new or foreign, God is still the same. Like the Israelites, our instructions are the same: trust in God alone, cling to God alone, and bloom where God has planted us. May we trust in God’s plans and may we obediently follow God’s will as we follow wherever God leads.