Sunday, August 19, 2012

Whilst Living in Exile

Trouble is a blessing when it makes us stronger;
and prosperity is a curse if it entices us away from God.

So reads the footnotes associated with Jeremiah's two baskets of figs (Chapter 24).  The truth of it I know well.  Likely you do, too.  Sometimes God tells us the hardest route is the best one.  Huh?

I have an aversion to trouble.  I don't like to see it coming, and I definitely don't like swimming in it when it actually arrives.  Like the dead sea, it never permits me to do much more than a flubbery float.  There's nothing refreshing or satisfying about it  - - unless & until, that is, I find a refreshing body of water or a shower in which to cleanse myself from its salt-bog effects. 

I'd rather BE salt than live BENEATH or ATOP of it!

Trouble has touched down in the lives of several people I know & love.  It's hard to witness, and so very tempting to rush in for a rescue.  It's not that rescuing is all bad - - afterall, we have Search & Rescue Teams that do exactly that when boats capsize at sea, or hikers become imperiled in the Grand Canyon, or upon the craggy slopes of Mt. Everest.  The Good Samaritan gives us a protocol for these sorts of extreme rescues. 

But the rescue I'm thinking of is related to thinking I know best about what is the remedy for a particular trouble in the life of another.  Yes, offering a cup of cold water is often the best solution - - a gentle, refreshing & caring kindness (Matthew 10:42).  So, too, the provision of practical or financial help if it's warranted.  The scriptures are chock full of related texts.

It never hurts to ask:  How can I help?

One size does not fit all, so a generous application of wisdom is in order no matter what form the trouble takes.  But make no mistake:  God never asks that we stand idly by. 

And what if I find myself (again) living in the sort of trouble - exile - penned in Jeremiah's captive story?  What if I need to encourage someone burdened by exile?

I'm not left to wonder ...
God Himself provides the prescription
(even though this scripture is often
taken out of context). 
He promises that, when the time is right,
He will alter our circumstances. 

Remember, "exile" was the blessing. "Escape" was the curse.  The trouble dejour was actually God's provision for protection.

“Build houses and settle down;
plant gardens and eat what they produce.
Marry and have sons and daughters;
find wives for your sons and
give your daughters in marriage,
so that they too may have sons and daughters.
Increase in number there; do not decrease.
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city
to which I have carried you into exile.
Pray to the Lord for it, because
if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty,
the God of Israel, says:
“Do not let the prophets and diviners
among you deceive you.
Do not listen to the dreams you
encourage them to have.
They are prophesying lies to you in my name.
I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord says:
“When seventy years are completed for Babylon,
I will come to you and fulfill
my good promise to bring you back to this place.
For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future. 
~ Jeremiah 29:5-11


Diana Ferguson said...

Love this post!!
Sweet Jeremiah words, too......"For I know the plans..."

Denise said...

Bless you.

Debbie Petras said...

You have a very caring heart Kathleen! I think when those you love and care about are hurting hurt. And there are times when we can help out. Other times we might be able to lend a listening ear. But being available is so important and to keep on praying.

Love you,

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Well, while I'm not living in exile and my troubles are few, I do feel like God has called me to a new place of ministry this year . . . my homeschooling home! I cannot begin to tell you the struggles I've felt in the last week, but I am resigned that this "hard" is, in fact, God's "right." Therefore, I will plant and prosper in this place and seek the Lord every single step of the way.

This post is particularly important for me this morning. I love you, Sassy friend.


Cheryl Barker said...

Sometimes when we're in exile, we forget that it can be a blessing. Am so very thankful that we can know God has a plan to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future. So very thankful for His Word!

Just a little something from Judy said...

I can't tell you how many times I wanted to take control of a situation. Your heart comes through as you shared the situations you are facing. The older I get in this Christian life, the more I realize how little control I have over any situation. Thank goodness I know the verse you shared from Jeremiah. It brings great comfort to me and to the others around me.

Betty said...

I am right there with you sister and repeat Judy words for I too have tried to take control all too often. The more we try to fix things seem the more anxious we become. All who read your well written post will this moment we all have been there or there now or will be soon. Thanks for sharing from Jeremiah, have spent a few months in those pages soaking up comfort and peace.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Beautiful post!

Friends and relatives provided much prayer, help, and kindness when my late husband was diagnosed with leukemia. They made our burdens much lighter.

Saleslady371 said...

I love the way the Lord opens our eyes to those around us who need help of any kind and then He shows us how to do that and when. We get to be bit players in the promises from the Lord and all the glory goes to Him.

LisaShaw said...

Kathleen, you wrote a mouthful of good chewing here my friend!! and then you topped it off with Jeremiah 29:5-11!!!!

I loved that you said, "It never hurts to ask: How can I help?" And I most especially love that you made it clear that one size does not fit all of us. Wisdom is key in the offering of help.

You blessed my heart this day and without knowing it, you have been used by God to help me many times!

Love you much!