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This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 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. 7 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.” 8 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. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. 10 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. 11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:4-14 (New International Version)

The Lord himself makes his people refugees and drives them into captivity. Aware of their feelings of abandonment and confusion, God sends Jeremiah with a letter of good news for them.

We read God’s promises with great anticipation, longing to dwell on these promised mountain peaks. We may ask in the meantime, however, “If God is taking me to the top, why am I headed downhill?” But the path to the peak is neither always straight nor always straight up.

“It was a God thing, really. There’s no way I would’ve gotten it without him.”

Hasina couldn’t help overhearing these words coming from the next table during the church lunch. Good for him, she thought ruefully. I know he’s wanted that job for a while. But that’s not what she really wanted to say aloud.

She really wanted to lean over and ask, “I’m sorry, but could you please clarify for me when something is ‘a God thing’ and when it’s not? I busted my rear end and struggled to pay for college while juggling two part-time jobs. Since graduating, I’ve searched and searched for a good job but to no avail. Is that a ‘God thing’ too? Recently, I cleared the first three hurdles of the employment process at one company, only to be derailed by a technicality. Was that a ‘God thing’? And you know what really gets me? All this has happened while my mother lies ill, and I’m caring for her. I’m really trying to figure out this ‘God thing’!”

Of course, she didn’t lean over. She didn’t say any of it. As she twirled her cold spaghetti around her plastic fork, she chuckled to herself. God, you promise “hope and a future.” I’m just wondering when the future is finally going to get around to the present.

Have you ever been in a situation similar to Hasina’s in which nothing seemed to be going your way? How did you handle it? Did you talk to God about it?

Do you harbor an unfulfilled expectation of God? What is it? What have you learned from the experience?



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