Right Where You Are.
Jeremiah 29:7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.
When I read this passage I thought of how unhappy people are. I thought about how unhappy people are in their careers, in their relationships, and in themselves. Many people are even unhappy with their country.
As I read the words from Jeremiah I was reminded that no matter where we are, we are supposed to look to God for the future but we’re also supposed to make the best of the here and now.
Sometimes we are not always where we think we are supposed to be. Sometimes it’s obvious that we’re not who we’re supposed to be. Occasionally the world around us is not how it’s supposed to be. Sometimes family life is hard, our jobs are stressful, our finances are out of control and we can’t remember the last time we did something to take care of ourselves. And it’s during those times that we start to wonder if life would’ve been a little bit easier if we hadn’t taken that job, married our love, had kids, adopted the dog, bought the house, started the business, traveled so much…or you name it!
For the people in Jeremiah’s time, they were living in a land they were exiled to. That means they were there because they had to be. There was no choice in the matter. They couldn’t go back to where they had been. They were stuck.
Can you relate?
Having the foresight to know that human nature would certainly lead them down the wrong path, Jeremiah is sent with a message from the Lord.
Instead of dreaming and scheming to return to their land, Jeremiah tells them to work at building the life they want right in their current circumstance. Certainly it’s not the ideal situation. Certainly he recognizes that they are not where they want to be, nor is the city what they want it to be or how they want it. But his message to them is not his own. His message is from God. He wisely notes that building a good life here will most certainly benefit a city they don’t want to be part of. But he also points out that the city’s welfare is directly proportional to their welfare.
Do we ever consider that maybe by being who we’re supposed to be we can change the environment around us to becoming what we’d like it to be?
In a way we’ve all been exiled to this moment in time, because we can’t go back to the past. We can only choose what we will do right now. Maybe you’re thinking you don’t want to go back to the past, maybe you are wishing you were already living a future lifestyle. The right now will determine your future. It is directly proportional to your welfare.
In fact if we back up a little, we read in Jeremiah 29:5-6, Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
In other words he’s saying, “get comfortable you’re going to be here a while”.
I’m sure it’s not what they wanted to hear, after all if it was, God wouldn’t have had to send a messenger to tell them. I’m sure it was difficult advice to take.
Sometimes we know what the right thing is but we don’t want to hear it. Often times we stubbornly refuse to do those things we know we should. We justify it by telling ourselves that we’re not going to be in this place long so it doesn’t matter.
But it does.
I can relate to being in a place I don’t want to stay. But in the end, it’s up to us to make the best of where we are. It’s up to us to recognize the opportunities that are here already.
As we read on in Jeremiah 29:8-9, “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you…” He’s saying don’t get caught up in a fantasy life that this world is trying to sell you.
It’s tempting to believe something because you want life to be different. The world tells us if we look good and have success we can “have it all”. But God is saying you already have all that you need for a happy life. Make the best life with what you already have.
He doesn’t just stop there. He says that he has plans for a better future.
So, what is his plan? I’m glad you asked, it’s the best part!
In Jeremiah 29: 10-11 He says, ” …I will come to you to fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The catch? Before his plans are realized you must do what you know you are supposed to do right where you are, with exactly what you have. Happy Thanksgiving!