Monday, July 6, 2015

Context is Key

Pretty much every mature Christian knows Jeremiah 29:11 by heart. This verse is probably one of the most quoted in all of Scripture. It's good to know God's word off the top of our heads, but sometimes when we do, it's easy to gloss over other verses that are just as pertinent. While we do that hurried half reading, half skimming the Bible, we can easily miss out on some much needed additional encouragement. 

Jeremiah wrote this famed promise in a letter addressed to the people of Judah who had just been exiled from Jerusalem. While they expected to return immediately, Jeremiah exhorted God's people to settle down, marry, and build homes in Babylon. He explained to the Judeans they would be in captivity for seventy years. 

Seventy years! What crushing news. This is why God, in essence, said to His people, "Hey! I know that all seems lost--that you think this is the end--but you are wrong! When it's all said and done, I am going to fulfill all that I've promised you!!! Keep your chin up and carry on!"

Today, realizing this promise came from the context of such a devastating captivity made me think of the hopelessness people feel when they think about the captivity in which their children with autism live. Hope seems far away; the future bleak. 

But what if you are a parent who knows in your heart of hearts that healing was promised to your son or daughter? What if you had a dream that was so real there was no mistaking the contents of that dream in which you received a promise of healing?

"Yes, I had that dream, many years have passed. It must not have been real." Or simply, "It's too late. It will never happen." 

I know how frustrating and confusing this can be, but just the other day, I heard a response to this very same lament and it was simply this: "The longer you have to wait for your healing, the bigger the testimony when it finally comes."

To this response, my heart says, "Amen and amen!!!" 

By the way, my favorite part of Jeremiah 29 is not actually verse eleven. What I love immediately follows: Then you will call on 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 [...] and bring you back from captivity. 

Like I said, context is key. A glorious promise erupted from crippling loss. And in that loss, God asked his people to live in peace in a strange land for decades.Yet in the end, He said He would be back to "come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place." 

I don't know about you, but all of that--the rest of those verses surrounding Jeremiah 29:11 makes me smile. Why? Because waiting is hard, especially when the suffering never seems to end. But I want you to know, God has not forgotten you. Keep praying and seeking. He will be found by you. God loves you. 

May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you today. 

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