Acknowledging the Challenge, Embracing Change: Jeremiah 29:1-14
One of the key lessons humanity has had to learn in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic is that we have had to adjust in order to survive. Further, as the virus has continued to spread and mutate, humanity has had to continually embrace change as we, collectively and individually, deal with the impact occasioned by COVID-19 some positive and others negative, seek to protect ourselves from infection and curb the spread of the virus. We remain uncertain about how long the virus will be a threat and when we can return to some level of what we were previously used to. However, one thing we are certain of is that our survival lies in our ability to embrace the changes to our daily interactions and lives.
In reflecting on this reality we draw insights from the experiences of the nation of Israel in Jeremiah 29. Nebuchadnezzar had taken captive a section of Israelites and exiled them in Babylon. These captives faced an uncertain future as they adjusted to their new normal as the children of promise now under captivity.
In reading verse 1-14, a few reflections emerge:
- The captives seemed to have high hopes that the domination of Nebuchadnezzar would not last long; that the return of the exiles to their fatherland would soon come about. A read through chapter 28 presents Hananiah, apparently a false prophet, who sought to contradict God’s prophecy about the impeding captivity (28:1-4), and thus provided a rich ground for deception that the exile was to be short-lived;
- God’s word through Jeremiah debunked this deception and counselled them to embrace the reality of captivity and accept that as their new normal. They were advised to build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. Their stay in Babylon would last 70 years (v.10)!
- Nevertheless, even within the realities of disruptions occasioned by the captivity, God communicated the thoughts He had toward them; “…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you [them] a future and a hope.” (v.11)
- They were therefore to seek the Lord with all their hearts, call on him and pray; for He promised to listen, to be found by them and to bring them back from captivity (v.12-14). What great hope!
Even as we thank God for the global efforts to find a solution, we are not clear when the virus will be eradicated. This reality calls us to ‘settle’ in the new normal and find appropriate ways of being productive while carrying out our day-to-day work, chores and responsibilities. Let us be instructed and encouraged by Jeremiah’s letter to the Babylonian captives as we step into 2021.
- God is still with us (as individuals and within our associations). He has not forgotten or left anyone of us.
- God has wonderful plans for us (individually and collectively). He encourages us to draw strength from this truth as we embrace the changes necessary for us to live in the new normal and maximize the opportunities therein.
- On our part, we should seek His face, call upon His name and hear his leading for this season.
- Further, we are called to do what we need to do now, do it well and responsibly.
Let us endeavour in 2021, to embrace the necessary and inevitable changes in order to facilitate us implement and run programs, undertake business and ultimately realise our mission to nurture children, strengthen family life and help people engage with God through the Bible so that they may follow Jesus and be instrumental in transforming their communities.