Jeremiah 29:4 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 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. 7 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.
This is not what God’s people wanted to hear. They wanted to hear that God would be setting them free very soon, returning them to their homeland and all that was familiar and sacred. But it was not to be. Instead they were told to build houses, raise families, grow gardens because their time in exile would not pass quickly. V.10 of this chapter says they would spend 70 years in exile, then the Lord would make a way for the Israelites to return home. For most of the adults alive at the time of this word from Jeremiah, their dreams of returning home to Israel would never be realized. They would die in Babylon.
I’m at the age now when I’m realizing some of my hopes and aspirations may never come to pass. I moved around a lot as a kid, attending five high schools in four years as a teenager. I lived in multiple towns in Texas and multiple towns in Southern California. As a young adult I remember telling myself that when I grew up things would be different. I would find a place to call home – and stay there. None of this moving around stuff. It’s just too hard!
Since turning 21 I’ve moved 11 times and lived in seven different cities/towns. So much for my plans of staying put. That said, it’s been a good life. Wherever my family and I have wandered, the Lord has been there with us. Would I have rather stayed put somewhere? Yes. Was moving around difficult? Yes. Do I regret the way things unfolded? Not at all.
For some of you reading this blog post, things have NOT turned out the way you’d hoped, for any number of reasons. You may be realizing that some of your hopes and dreams will never come to pass. Let’s be honest, there is grief in this realization. Dreams die hard. If that’s you, I feel for you – and I can tell you I’m going through some of the same stuff. That said, it’s important we don’t allow the grief of loss to overshadow the blessings the Lord has brought into our lives, in ways we could never have anticipated.
Lord Jesus, give us grace to trust your plans for us and to see the blessings in unexpected places. Amen.