Friday, April 15, 2011
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Jeremiah 29:1-14 (excerpt)
You and your family are rounded up by the crack of the whip. As the blood drips from your arms and back staining your rough cotton shirt, a wail escapes your wife’s mouth as she is stripped and kicked down. A silent tear rolls from your daughter’s eyes and your son looks on with bewilderment. All that you know disappears slowly on the horizon as you walk forward with metal cuffs cutting your ankles, threatening to expose the bone buried underneath. Without choice, without voice, without time to look back, the Promised Land becomes a distant memory and your next foreseeable years will be spent in exile, in Babylon. Life in the land of provision and promise can feel no further away to you than now.
Yet a directive from the God you worship comes—Resume life as normal. Build homes and live. Work the land and provide for your family. Marry, have children, multiply and have dominion as I give. Also listen to those who proclaim my truth. But as well, seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Your home of captivity becomes not only the location in which your God wants to increase your number and bless you. It becomes the place for which you must pray, the new home in which its wellbeing determines your wellbeing. Though bound by its people, God resides in your midst, granting joy and freedom at his whim, not according to logic or even seeming reality. Reminds you of the song once sung…
Somebody told me of the joy they had
Somebody told me that in sorrow they could be glad
Then they told me they were bound but now set free
I never thought it could be till it happened to me
And you realize, in a place where you are taught to hate your captors, instead your God teaches you to live in joy and freedom beyond how they could ever imagine.
Jennifer L. Aycock is a freelance writer for McCormick Theological Seminary and a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.