Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most popular, most clung to promises in the Bible. It’s pretty powerful. Especially when taken in context. The context of Jeremiah 29 is exile in a strange land. In the previous chapter, Hananiah, a false prophet, told an Israel starving for good news that they would soon be free from their nothing-is-normal season of collective hardship. Jeremiah comes on the scene to confront Hananiah for lying & telling Isreal only what they wanted to hear. Jeremiah then informs God's people that the promise of a return to life as they'd once known would come, but not at all swiftly.
There are always plenty of spiritual leaders out there who will tell you that God only wants you to have good times & plenty of material wealth. But both in the O.T & the N.T. God told his people to expect not just good seasons, but hard seasons as well.
Truth is, we're currently living in a strange season in a strange landscape.
One that's far from normal & fraught with spiritual & practical challenges,
& with relational, economical, political, & even life-threatening hardships.
In Jer 29:7, through the prophet Jeremiah, God encouraged His people to not inhabit their strange new landscape as if holding their breath. Not to live in their season of difficulty as if God was going to swoop in & return everything back to normal in a few weeks or even a few months. It was a tough word to take in. But a word full of God's good intentions.
God had a work He wanted to do in His people in that strange season. Indeed, He had a work He wanted to do in His people & in the city they were living in. To position Isreal in a way that would ensure that two-sided transformation, God spoke Jer 29:7 to His people.
In hardship, in a season of lingering, collective misfortune, God didn't want His people focusing on escaping it, but on learning to thrive in it. He advised them to dig in, to ditch the 'ride-it-out' mentality, & instead focus on thriving in the strange new landscape. To seek personally thriving, thriving as a faith community, & to pray & work for the welfare & prosperity of the city they dwelled in.
To position your soul better in this strange land, you'll need to:
Make Peace With It:
We'll be in this strange season way longer than we'd hoped.
Decide to be OK with that & start coming out of 'survival mode'.
Lean Into It:
Settle into the un-normal as the new normal. Embrace the season and establish new ways to be fully present in it. Fully present to God, to your relationships, and even to yourself.
Learn The Lessons:
Decide that you'll pay attention to & say yes to the new ways God wants to shape, prune, stretch and upgrade you in this strange new landscape. Plan to explore and dig into spiritual formation practices that help you pay attention to what God is saying, doing, and inviting you into.
Take some time now to position
your own heart in these 3 ways.