Tuesday, April 23, 2013

By The Rivers of Babylon

How can we sing the LORD’S song
  In a foreign land?" Psalm 137

Sometimes God will allow us to go through something that we'd rather not go through. It may be a move we don't want to make for a job and it may involve leaving our home we've always known and friends and family behind. God allows these times in our lives for various reasons and to be honest the reasons are not the important thing to understand. What's more important is that although you may be in exile from the things and places you long to be, God is still with you. He still loves you and He is still watching over you. 

When we're forced to make a move or other big change in our life we can be left feeling completely alone; cut off from everything familiar. It is at those times when we need to depend on the Lord even more. When the children of Israel were taken captive into Babylon everything was different: the language, the food, the customs...everything! They asked the question in Psalm 137 'how can we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?' in other words, 'how will I ever be happy again?'. 

When you're in a place that you'd rather not be remember that even in this God can bring you joy. He is still with you and is walking with you each step of the way. He hasn't left you even though you feel alone. He's still there. And He will help you. In Jeremiah 29 God sent a message to the captives in Babylon. It wasn't the message they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear that God was going to deliver them right away and take them back home but instead God told them to: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God told them to stay put and to make a life where they were. Today we'd tell people 'bloom where you're planted' and other such cliches. But look again at what God said they were to do. He said to them to go on living: build houses, have weddings and children, enjoy life. But then the Lord had another instruction for them, while they were there they were to pray for the foreign land they found themselves in because if it prospered they would too. It takes the grace of God working in us to make us pray for His blessings to be upon the foreign place we find ourselves whether it be a physical place or a relationship or a situation. But here He tells His people that their lives will be better if they do. 

Maybe God has you in the place you don't want to be to be a blessing to the people there. When God took the captives to Babylon the Babylonian king wasn't a believer in God. He worshipped false gods and had a statue made of himself so the people of Babylon would worship it. But God placed Daniel in Babylon to turn the heart of the king to God by Daniel's great faith. If Daniel hadn't been taken captive and had never gone to Babylon the king would never have known about the One True God. Daniel remained true to God even though he was in a place he didn't want to be and God used that faithfulness to see great things accomplished. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 are probably some of the most often quoted Scriptures in the world. We all like to know that God has a plan for us, and He does, but I want you to see those verses in the context they were written so we'll look at a few extra verses surrounding those popular ones. 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 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.”

Did you see the words I printed in bold type? Did you read them as a message from God? I hope so because even if God has allowed you to be taken into exile He is still there with you and He will bring you back home. Trust Him. The children of Israel thought that God would deliver them right away and yes, He could have done that, but it wasn't His plan. He had a work for them to do in a foreign land. He needed them there for seventy years, but then He was true to His promise and He returned them home because He knew the desires of their hearts and He honored those desires. 

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Right now you may be facing a move or maybe you're living in a situation that you wouldn't have chosen but 'take delight in the Lord', remain true to Him and 'He WILL give you the desires of your heart'. Find the joy in your foreign land and if you can't see it ask the Lord to show it to you. No matter where you are, God is with you and He will never leave you. You are not alone. This time in your life may be a time of exile from everything you hold dear but it can also be a time of great joy, a time of 'building houses and planting gardens and having weddings and children'. 

Post a Comment