“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.” (Jeremiah 29:1)
The last few weeks the Old Testament passages have had the theme of the Israelites in captivity and mourning. I can sort of resonant with right because I have had some tough days too. I have been fortunate that I can go home to a familiar place, where I know my needs will be met. So maybe I should not complain too much. But still, tough times. So I can appreciate the desire to have words of comfort and sent to me, and hope for the future.
“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.” (Verses 4 – 7)
Basically the word is this – you are hear in this city. Make a life here. And contribute to the life of the city you are in, and its well-being. Not exactly words of rescue. And not exactly the words of comfort I think they were expecting.
I can image these words as they might apply to me – “Your condition is one that you will have to live with. Make peace with it, and do as much as you can each day. Help others who have this condition, and be a comfort to them. “ It is good advise, and I tell you what I imagine the paraphrase of verses 4 to 7 would be for me, because it is a message I have gotten from God many times. But still, it is not easy to hear. And less easy to life out on a day by day basis. But implicit in these words, both to the Israelites and myself, is that we are not alone. God is with us. If we can remember that, and live according to the firm belief, we will be okay. Selah!