Living in exile - Hope 103.2

Living in exile

By David ReayMonday 1 Feb 2016LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Jeremiah 29:4-9

4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. (NIV)

We so often live in situations which are far from ideal. We would rather be in other places with other people. The people of Israel had been taken into captivity by the Babylonian empire. They were far from their familiar home and culture and rituals.

Some tame prophets and leaders suggested that it would all end soon. They could go home and it would be business as usual. God, through Jeremiah, has other ideas. They are to settle into their exilic situation. It might not be what they desired, but they are to make the most of it rather than itching to get back to how things were.

Each of us has a decision to make. We can focus on what we don’t have, the innumerable frustrations and imperfections. Or we focus on what we do have, unsatisfactory as it might be. We can look at life and complain about what is not there, or look at life and rejoice at what is there.

We may be aliens and exiles in our far-from-perfect world. But we are to live boldly and creatively by faith where we are. Perhaps things will change: after all, the Jews finally did return from exile. But in the meantime we live fully in the present moment. In fact, once the exiled Jews did this, they entered a creative and fruitful period of their history.

Exile is not welcome: it is not a pleasant word or cheerful reality. But if it is where we find ourselves right now, our task is to be those who through God’s grace make it a time of blessing, not only for ourselves but for others. We resolve to live for God in the midst of our myriad imperfections. Exile is not where we might want to be, but it is still the place of God’s presence and the sphere of his blessing.

David Reay

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