In Jeremiah 29 we get to read a letter sent from the prophet Jeremiah to the exiles from Jerusalem, who were currently living in Babylon. Jeremiah conveys to the people what God says. While in exile, not in their home land or comfort zone, he tells them to thrive, grow, seek peace and prosperity. He promises to take them out of this place but for now... this is it, and make the best of it. And then this is what God says, "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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. 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."
Over the past 3 or 4 years of my life I have often felt like I was in exile. We faced some significant financial trials and made some pretty big lifestyle changes in order to manage. At the same time we added a baby and moved into a house that needed a lot of work. There were times where I felt so burdened that I just couldn't be myself. My instinct was to hunker down and survive, not thrive. When life threw those curve balls, as it always does, I found it hard to look beyond the moment to moment times. These verses reminded me that there is hope and a future, beyond the current struggle or set back. And that God has not abandoned me in the place where I'm at. He reminds me that He has a good plan for me and encourages me to find ways to thrive, to celebrate, to live and not just wait for the better times to come. I would have missed quite a few special experiences if I had continued on waiting for things to get better first.
The picture above is of some tulips in our yard. I think they are the perfect example of thriving despite the circumstances. Two years ago, right after we bought our house, we dismantled the chimney and threw down hundreds of bricks into the yard. We placed them in a pile on what we thought was an empty planting bed. The next spring I noticed bits of green poking through the bricks and within a few weeks there were actual tulips blooming in that pile of old chimney bricks! Not only that, they survived that hard spring, only to come up again the following spring, after the pile had been removed, and bloom just as brightly.
Whether your struggle is physical or emotional, or maybe you're in a spiritual drought, trust in the Lord. Read his word to remember how faithful he has been in the past. He has a plan for you, and this time will pass, but for now you can thrive right where you're at!