It has been said that the only constant in the world is change. The evidence is all around us. We hardly recognize the world anymore. We feel disconnected, even exiled from what we used to be. It is tempting to spend our time bemoaning the passing of “the good old days.” The siren calls of those who deny reality and claim we can return to our former lives with ease are difficult to resist.
All of this makes the word we get from the prophet Jeremiah even more startling. Instead of rallying his people to believe deliverance is just around the corner, Jeremiah gives some blunt news that is a version of the popular saying “It is what it is.” He offers a provocative and deeply practical message: Get used to your situation. Put down roots. Enlarge your community. Invest in your new home. Pray for your captors. Make the best of the situation, knowing that God is still with you, even in this strange, new land.
Of course, there are situations that demand a much different response. Jeremiah is not calling for passive acceptance of injustice. He is saying that God’s vision is much larger than the present circumstances. Pining for the past is a waste of energy. Instead we are being challenged to believe that God is with us still, and we can find faithful ways of living even in the most challenging of circumstances. We can do that because the only thing more constant than change is the promise of God.
Living in a world of truth and knowing the work we have to do to get where God wants us to be is more important than always living life looking through rose-colored lenses and then being surprised when reality shows up. Being as prepared as we can be for what is to come is our challenge from God.
Lord, help me remember that I am a member of your community no matter where I am. Help me to live in ways that give others hope regardless of their circumstances. Amen.
Through Jeremiah, God sends a message to the people in exile: They are to seek good for the city of Babylon, their new home. God will bless the city and in doing so will bless God’s people. The psalmist encourages the people to praise God with songs recounting past challenges through which God’s powerful deeds have brought them. This can be encouragement for those currently experiencing difficulties. In Second Timothy, Paul encourages his protégé to endure suffering if necessary. In fact, Timothy should expect to experience resistance. Although the apostle Paul is in chains, the word of God is powerful and can never be chained. The story in Luke reminds us of a basic truth: We should remember to show gratitude to God for answered prayers.
Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you experienced physical or metaphorical exile? How has God helped you to thrive in your Babylon?
Read Psalm 66:1-12. Recall a time of division in your family or community of faith. How did God bring you individually and collectively to a spacious place?
Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you remember Christ in your actions toward others?
Read Luke 17:11-19. What boundaries keep you from full wellness that can be found in Jesus Christ?
Respond by posting a prayer.