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Devotional: March 28, 2020

‘“‘Oh, look at the siege ramps already set in place to take the city. Killing and starvation and disease are on our doorstep. The Babylonians are attacking! The Word you spoke is coming to pass—it’s daily news! And yet you, God, the Master, even though it is certain that the city will be turned over to the Babylonians, also told me, Buy the field. Pay for it in cash. And make sure there are witnesses.’”

Jeremiah 32: 24-25 (The Message)

Today is my sister Marianne’s birthday. This may seem like an odd thing to mention, when headlines are filled with news about the coronavirus, and “stay home” orders. But in many ways, this collision between a happy life-event and tragic current events is an opportunity to reflect upon God’s care, love, promises and sovereignty.

Jeremiah lived during an awful time. He was imprisoned a good deal of the time, and his country was declining, and literally besieged. Here in Chapter 32, the Babylonians are at the gates. It is not looking good for Jeremiah, or anybody else who lives in Israel. And yet, God told Jeremiah that he would soon be given the opportunity to buy land in the city. God said, “Go ahead and buy it.” And so, Jeremiah did.

Why did he buy land when things looked so grim? Jeremiah knew that things were going to get worse before they got better. He knew that there would be much devastation before there would be restoration. So why buy the land?

He bought the land because God let him see beyond the troubles of the present. The Lord gave Jeremiah hope. God told Jeremiah that someday, prosperity and peace would again return to the city. He did not give Jeremiah a time line, but he did say it would happen. Eventually, the city would be restored.

Read and listen to what God is saying to Jememiah:

“I promise. Fields are going to be bought here again, yes, in this very country that you assume is going to end up desolate—gone to the dogs, unlivable, wrecked by the Babylonians. Yes, people will buy farms again, and legally, with deeds of purchase, sealed documents, proper witnesses—and right here in the territory of Benjamin, and in the area around Jerusalem, around the villages of Judah and the hill country, the Shephelah and the Negev. I will restore everything that was lost.’

Jeremiah 34: 42-44 (The Message)

This is not a time to neglect opportunities to celebrate. In fact, this is when we should run to the opportunity to do just those kinds of things. Birthdays are a reminder of thankfulness, of life, and of joy. We need to praise God for our daily blessings, for they are still here! Our lives are no doubt being affected by what is going on around us, and in the world. Yet that does not mean that we should stall out, and become idle. Turn off the news from time to time. I guarantee important information will be re-broadcast when you come back.

Jeremiah went about living his life, believing and trusting God. Yes, it was a dark time then. Yet all through history, there have been dark times, and people have gone on to prosper. We need to persevere, to challenge our minds, and to get some exercise. Someone said recently, “My sympathies go out to all those husbands who said, I’ll get around to that project when I have time”. Begin projects which will someday yield good fruit. Relationships can be strengthened during these trying time. Yes, we can still communicate. We can call, text, email, FaceTime, send cards, and even write letters (snail mail is still working).

While our lives are affected, they do not have to stop. As much as possible, live like Jeremiah! He had faith in God, and that faith gave him hope. We believe in a God who specializes in restoration, and resurrection!

Prayer for the Day

God of hope,

Help us to see beyond the difficulties and the disease of our present moment. Keep our eyes focused upon you, and your good promises to restore what is lost. Be with our world in the midst of our present troubles. Always help us to be people who hope in Your blessed future. Let us find ways to make down-payments of hope in our church, community, and world. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

P. S. Happy Birthday to my sister Marianne!

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