This made me remember my own exile from home in Colorado to an East Coast state in 1985, during the infamous savings and loan scandal that decimated the regional economy. My company ran out of work and was getting ready to close the Denver Office. Rather than lose my job, I was given the option of moving and taking on the largest project our company had ever done, after which we were expected to move permanently to the Boston Office.
Heart-wrenching as it was, Sue and I believed God was protecting us, so we picked up in blind faith and went. Over the next three years, East Coast politics nearly destroyed the project; I was caught in a vicious battle among local politicians and even followed by a private detective. One day I found myself standing in an open field crying out to God to turn the tables and save my family and the project.
He did, in miraculous ways, and today the project is one of the most successful of its kind in the world.
As a result, our Denver Office revived, we were able to return home to Colorado, and I was elected Partner and National Manager in the company, responsible for about a quarter of the entire business.
Who would have thought?
I wonder if almost everyone has a personal exile sooner or later, maybe more than one. How did you endure it? Or how will you if it comes?
In Chapter 29, Jeremiah (who stayed behind in Jerusalem to convince the errant “remnant” of Israel that they would be very sorry for their decision) writes a letter to encourage and to validate the exiles in Babylon.
Jeremiah tells the exiles to adapt, to blend in, and never forget the promise of God:
“Build houses…plant gardens…multiply there and do not decrease…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (29:5-7, ESV).
What follows is a promise that has guided my life in exile and can guide yours during all kinds of opposition:
“For I know the plans I have for you…plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope…You will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you…You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart…I will bring you back from the place to which I sent you into exile” (29:11-14).
God goes on to curse and ultimately destroy those who stubbornly remained in Jerusalem and refused his command to go into exile. Seventy years later, the true remnant of Israel, out of which the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would eventually rise, returned to Jerusalem with God’s blessing.
What follows in Chapters 30 and 31 must not be missed – 62 straight verses of promises, poured out from the heart of God, for the restoration of God’s children after all the gloom and doom they have endured from the judgment of their sins, solely because of the never-ending love of God!
Please, please take a few minutes right now and read these two chapters, especially if you are dealing with your own personal exile, maybe not in a foreign country, but nevertheless spiritually oppressed.
Adapt, accept, seek God continuously, repent, and expect restoration!