Daily Devotion – May 23, 2020 – Erin Bjerke

Jeremiah 29:4-14

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 what they 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 of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.

For thus says the LORD: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Since it’s graduation season, I’m sure there have been a lot of well-wishes of Jeremiah 29:11 going around. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” This is a great verse, one that has been inspiring to me over the years, and certainly an applicable verse for graduation. But in my own Bible reading, I like to make sure to read a verse in context, so I’ve provided you today with some context for this verse, and the good news is that, especially in context, Jeremiah 29:11 is very applicable for this pandemic.

Jeremiah was a prophet to the people who had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon, and this was a message that God told Jeremiah to give to those exiles. These people would be exiled for the next seventy years, but God did not abandon them. God told them to get comfortable in their new living situation and make the most of it. Even though God wouldn’t answer their prayer for deliverance until the seventy years was up, God was still with them!

Now that we’re living in our “new normal,” we might have to get comfortable here, just like the exiles did in Babylon. For most of us, this is a time of waiting, and that’s hard. For me, it’s hard to think that there isn’t much I can do to change the current situation. The reality is, it might be awhile before we can safely go out in public again—I don’t think it will take seventy years (thank goodness!), but we will definitely have time to practice our patience. The good news is that God didn’t abandon the exiles in Babylon, and God doesn’t abandon us now, either. God is with us while we wait, and if we look, we can see God in our waiting. God has plans for our welfare, not for our harm, and God will give us hope for the future. Alleluia!

Prayer: God of all time and place, thank you that you don’t abandon us in our time of waiting. Help us to be patient and make the most that we can of this time. Amen.