Here, God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah to the Hebrews who have been carried off into exile by their Babylonian captors. Despite God’s promises to one day redeem and restore Israel, it’s going to be awhile before it happens. In fact, a few verses later, God tells them it’s going to be 70 years before they will be brought back. While they are waiting, they may as well get busy living life. They should build houses, plant gardens, and have children. They should pray for those who are holding them captive because their well-being is tied up in the well-being of the Babylonians.
There may be times we feel as if we are living in a foreign land, held there against our will. Maybe our captor looks like the current culture of incivility or like the aging process or like grief or like anxiety. How might these words from Jeremiah affect the way you approach living in less-than-ideal circumstances? What practices might be helpful in appreciating where you are, even if it’s not where you want to be?
Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for those times when you have been able to bloom despite what seemed like an unfertile environment.