Lately, I’ve had some kind of pinched nerve in my back. It hurts! Any movement of my arms or twisting from my waist send pains through my body that make me light headed.
When I lie down, the pain is worse. If I’ve been lying down and try to get up, I must force myself to keep moving because everything in me wants to freeze in my spot. I’ve found I do better during the day when I’m active. Sounds counterintuitive but it’s true.
Movement makes it better.
I’ve been spending my time alone with God reading in Jeremiah. I’m going to be honest and tell you, sometimes reading it leaves me exhausted. Throughout the book, God has Jeremiah telling the kingdom of Judah over and over again to repent. Instead, they threaten Jeremiah and ignore his warnings. In this section of the Bible, some of the Israelites have already been led away from Jerusalem to Babylon.
They have been taken as captives from the land God promised them. God’s chosen people. In captivity.
But while they’re in Babylon, God asked Jeremiah to write and send them a letter. And there is such hope in the letter for all of us. Here is what it says:
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem:
“Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!
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.” Jeremiah 29:4-7 NLT
This passage surprised me, and it made me smile. God didn’t tell the people to go into captivity and withdraw. He didn’t tell them to lock their doors and close the windows on life. He encouraged them to live!
He wanted them to set up houses, plant gardens, marry and have kids. I love the New Living Translation’s wording of verse 6. “Multiply! Do not dwindle away!” He even tells them to pray for Babylon. Pray for the people who took them from their homes and took them into exile.
Why would God want them to live full lives? Be healthy and raise more children?
The answer is a few verses away:
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.
If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:10-14 NLT
God had a plan. A plan to prosper His people. A plan to bring them home again.
While I’m tempted to stop all movement when my back hurts, the best thing for me is to keep moving – keep doing those everyday things to live my life. Keep playing dress up. Keep doing the dishes. Keep kissing boo-boos. Keep cooking dinner.
Perhaps you feel captive to a situation in your life. You, too, may be in a place of pain – a place you never thought you’d be. God’s words for the Israelites are still true for you today. Keep living! Don’t dwindle away, because He has a plan for your future. A plan to prosper you. A plan to bring you home.
Can I pray for you today?
God, I know there are some people reading these words who are dealing with some very serious situations in their lives. There are those wondering how they are going to make ends meet. Some marriages are hanging by threads. Others are dealing with very scary health conditions. Would you place your hand on each of them today, Lord, and let them know you are with them? God you never promised to keep us from the bad stuff, but you did promise to be there with us when we walked through it. Thank you.
Lord, I pray you breathe hope into each of the people who read these words. Let them know they are chosen and favored. Give them strength to not only endure their current situation but to flourish. I ask this in the name of your precious Son Jesus. Amen.