Have you ever ended up in a place you didn’t expect to be or want to be? That’s what happened to a group of God’s people over 2500 years ago.
The people of Jerusalem were God’s chosen people living in God’s chosen land for them when suddenly their world was flipped upside down. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon led his troops to attack Jerusalem and destroy the city, its walls, and even the temple. The troops then drove the people out of their homeland and took them as captives to the city of Babylon.
Can you imagine how the Jewish people must have felt? These were the people whose ancestors had escaped slavery in Egypt to follow God’s presence to their promised land. Now that they had built a nation there, life as they knew it was suddenly stripped away.
It would certainly have been tempting for them to think this was the end of the road for their nation. It would have been easy to become bitter, frustrated, and depressed. It would have been tempting to give up hope and turn against the Lord.
Yet, after God’s people were taken as captives, the prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to them in Babylon with an interesting message. He told them to build homes, plant gardens, marry, and have children and grandchildren. In other words, he told them to make the best of the situation. God wanted them to prosper in their land of captivity so that they would “be increased there, and not diminished” (Jeremiah 29:6, NKJV).
Isn’t that just like God? He wanted His people to prosper, even in their captivity. You see, there’s a consistent theme throughout the Bible in that God is always calling His people to better things. And it was no different at this point in history. Although they were certainly experiencing a time of disappointment, God presented it as an opportunity for increase.
God continued to speak through Jeremiah and assured His people that in His timing He would cause them to return to Jerusalem. “For I know the plans I have for you” the Lord declared to them. “They are plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
Wow! Even in a moment that seemed like disaster, God assured His people that they still had hope and a future. Now, thousands of years later, we can still relate to God’s promise. Sometimes we may end up in an unexpected place of disappointment. But God’s message to us is the same: it’s not over yet! God still has a future for us, and we still have hope!
Though it was probably hard to understand at the time, Jeremiah wanted the Jews to realize that they could actually grow stronger through their captivity. You see, prior to being attacked, their nation was growing evil. Yet, God used the time of captivity to turn their hearts back to Him so that when they returned to their homeland, they could once again build a righteous nation.
Still today, when we face pressures on the outside, God can make us stronger on the inside. The psalmist David declared, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Psalm 4:1, KJV). Certainly, we see this timeless truth displayed through the history of God’s people: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).
This promise continues to run true. In your times of disappointment, remember that God will work all things together for your good if you will trust Him.