By Christin Ditchfield Lazo
A Reading from Jeremiah 29:1, 4-13
1 These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 4Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6Take 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. 7But 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. 8For 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, 9for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.
10 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. 11For 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. 12Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13When you search for me, you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart.
“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.”
God reminds us in the depths of our grief and pain, in the midst of our suffering and heartache, that even when things look hopeless, even when it seems all is lost, he is with us. He loves us so.
And he is in control. All along, he has had a plan and purpose — a good plan, a good purpose. In ways we can’t even begin to comprehend, he is actively, faithfully working everything together for our good (Rom. 8:28).
God’s people experienced this when he delivered them from 70 years in exile after the siege of Jerusalem, and brought them safely home — just as he had promised through the prophet Jeremiah.
Mary and Martha experienced this, when their brother Lazarus tragically died — but was then gloriously resurrected by Jesus — in a miracle that foreshadowed and helped set the stage for his own death and resurrection in the days to come.
The Bible reminds us that all of this — their stories and ours — are part of God’s greater story. Each one of us has a meaningful part to play, a part created especially for us and lovingly directed by God himself.
Sometimes in our darkest moments, it’s hard to imagine any kind of future — let alone a future with hope. But this is no fairy tale. God promises he has a “happily ever after” in store for us — it’s coming. Hold on!
Christin Ditchfield Lazo, M.A. (Bible and Theology), is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Banks & Torres (Anglican Church of Melanesia)
Church of the Good Shepherd, Corpus Christi, Texas