What I read today;
Romans 5; Matthew 5; Jeremiah 29; Psalm 95; 2 Chronicles 9-10; Leviticus 11
King Nebuchadnezzar had deported thousands of survivors from Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon. For those deported, it must have seemed like the world was at an end. Everything they had worked for, their homes, their money, the temple were now gone. Many of them had seen the deaths of family members and friends. It must have seemed like God had completely abandoned them.
How often in our own lifetimes do we feel this way? We lose a job, or we have a significant health concern. Maybe we see our children suffering through some struggle. Sometimes we see circumstances in our life which are just not fair, like people struggling to pay medical bills. Often we feel overwhelmed and lost just like the Jewish people who were struggling to make sense of what was now happening to them. People often become angry with God during these times. They raise their fists to heaven and scream at God wondering how a loving God could allow these things to happen to them.
The truth is that these things aren’t really caused by God. They are created because we are sinners living in a world that is infected by sin. Corruption surrounds us in the form of pollution, anger, theft, and deception. We live with the corporations, who in the name of greed, raise prices on medications to the point that only the rich can afford them. We see the effects of our moral decay in the violent behavior of some members of our society. We stand shocked at the flagrant disregard some have for marital vows when they cheat on an unsuspecting spouse. We hear the coarseness of the language and the meanness of the people who think nothing of calling someone they don’t even know the vilest of names on social media.
We wonder aloud if God really there? Is God paying attention? Where is this Jesus fellow anyway? Didn’t he promise to be with us until the very end of time? It sure seems like he’s hiding somewhere, doesn’t it?
But the truth is that God is there. We may not see him or feel him, but he is there. Quietly manipulating things so that things go the way he wants them to. We may not understand the why, but we know the who. We know that the God of the universe is controlling all things for his ultimate purpose. Are we sad when we can’t understand what is happening? Of course, we are. When people reject God and run from him is that upsetting? Your right, it is upsetting. When our family rejects God and in turn rejects what we believe does that hurt? Yes, it really does hurt.
In those moments of pain, we need to throw ourselves on God’s promise that he is walking with us and that everything will ultimately work for the good that God is working towards. It’s ok that we don’t understand what is happening. But faith requires that we trust that God is smarter than you and I and that he will do the work he is setting out to do.
That is the message that Jeremiah sends to those in captivity in Babylon when he says this in Jeremiah 29 vs. 11-14;
“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. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”NRSV
God will bring us back from our place of exile. He has only good plans for each one of us. Trust that he will do all that he’s promised. Have faith that the God of the universe will walk with you all the way to our heavenly home.