We are where we are because God has ordered all of our steps.
Every. Single. Step.
Ordered and known by God.
We are where we are because He alone put us there.
- Our job.
- Our home.
- Our neighborhood.
- Our city / town / village.
- Our school.
All of this…and more. God ordered that. He ordered it for a purpose too. Even if it feels like torture, painful, insane, etc. There is purpose behind it all. And often, we don’t see the purpose until we are on the other side of it.
For example, I’m sure the people of Israel, when they were taken into captivity by the Babylonians thought to themselves, “This sucks. This is terrible. Why us? How could God let this happen to us?”
They may have blamed one another for where they were.
They may have blamed Babylon for where they were.
But God says, in Jeremiah 29:4 that He was the one who exiled them to Babylon. No one else.
There’s something else God says in Jeremiah 29 though that we often overlook, and I’m sure the Israelites (at least many of them) probably overlooked as well. God confirms it was Him that sent them there…and then He says this in verses 5 to 7:
5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
To summarize, God tells them to get comfortable, settle in, plant gardens, marry, and have children and grandchildren. Then…perhaps the most perplexing thing He tells them is to work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon…to pray for their welfare as the welfare of that city would determine the welfare of the people of Israel.
Work toward the peace and prosperity of the people that are holding them captive?
Is this not perplexing? The very people who are enslaving them God is telling them to work toward their peace and prosperity and pray that God would bless them and provide them with great welfare because out of that it would also bless the people of Israel.
In other words – no escapist attitudes here. Something we seem to have grown all too familiar in our own context today.
Here in the US, or Europe, or China…anywhere…Christians more often than not find themselves in a fairly hostile environment. Governments and people that seek to harm or silence the Church. Yet, I dare say that God would make the same argument to us today that He did to Israel then…and that is this:
“I have put you right where you are for a reason. It is by no accident that you find yourself where you are. Make the best of it! Don’t have an escapist attitude. Don’t cry out to me “Lord, come quickly!” Instead marry, plant gardens, have children, and grandchildren. Work toward the peace and prosperity of the people you find yourself in the midst of. You are my ambassadors to these people. Live like it. Show the people around you who I am. Tell them about me. Show them my love that should be alive and living through you as an example to all people. Make disciples of all nations and the people next door to you. Feed the hungry. Shelter the poor. Clothe the naked. Give water to the thirsty. Preach the good news that though sin is deeply rooted in the hearts of men and the enemy (Satan) seeks to destroy you, I have overcome it all to bring you hope for a future and life everlasting.”
So let us commit to this today…let us commit to dropping the escapist attitude and living full on for the mission to which God has called us to.