Faithful in Captivity | Jeremiah 29

Welcome to Real Life. It (real life) is not always easy!

It is a poverty of imagination that bankrupts hope.
–Ann Voskamp, Waymaker

I was a young wife, not yet twenty, when my husband abandoned me. I was devastated. All my hopes and dreams for the future had walked out the door. Then one day in church, I heard this promise and clung to it.
“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 29:11
The Lord made this promise to his people at a time when they were devastated. All their hopes and dreams—their homes, nation, house of worship—everything was gone. Israel had turned away from God and committed idolatry, even sacrificing their children to foreign Gods.[1] And so, God removed his protection and brought judgment. He allowed Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and lead his people away as captives.

The Flight of the Prisoners (1896) by James Tissot

Though they cried out to God in their misery, He didn’t deliver them…immediately. He kept them in Babylonian captivity for seventy years. He encouraged them to build houses, settle down, marry, have kids, plant and harvest, and pray for the peace of the city where they were living in captivity.

God doesn’t always deliver us.

Some of us are living in captivity. We’re in a difficult marriage. We’re suffering from chronic pain or illness. We’re caring for a child or adult with special needs. We’re battling depression or anxiety. Some are literally in prison. Sometimes, it is our foolish, sinful mistakes that have driven us into captivity. We’ve turned away from God and stepped outside of his protection. But at other times, it’s simply the fallout of living in this broken, sinful world. Though He may not deliver us, our God has not forgotten us. In fact, he still has a plan.

For I know the plans I have for you—
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.

Sometimes God allows a season of captivity to teach us how to pray. When we’re desperate, we get on our knees. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.[2]

“…and will bring you back from captivity.” These difficult circumstances will not last forever. God promises to deliver us. Though He never restored my first marriage, God did have good plans for me. He blessed me a wonderful husband who has loved me faithfully for thirty-nine years.

But no life is perfect. Like all of us, I still struggle. Deliverance doesn’t always happen in this lifetime. Israel’s captivity lasted seventy years. The older generation died without experiencing the fulfillment of God’s promise. Even if we never taste complete freedom in this life, in the midst of our struggles and suffering, God still has good plans for us. Our souls can prosper—full of his love and light and life. So keep building houses, settling down, marrying, having kids, planting and harvesting, and praying for peace in the midst of captivity.

For one day, you and I will fully experience God’s promised deliverance. We will live forever FREE, happy, and holy in His kingdom. Yes, our God has good plans for us!

Dear Father-God,
I pray for those struggling today
Who feel discouraged, hopeless, or trapped in their captivity.
Please help us, heal us, deliver us.
As we seek you with all our hearts, Lord,
Increase our faith. Comfort us with your love. Fill us with hope.
Remind us you still have good plans for us.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Take it further. Read God’s Word to his people in captivity in Jeremiah 29.

Image: By James Tissot - Jacques Joseph Tissot, Public Domain, 
[1] Jeremiah 7:30–34
[2] Jeremiah 29:13-14


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