God has given me a situation that, unless by course of some wonderful miracle from Him, I will deal with for the rest of my life. And in this circumstance, He has been teaching me so much about who He is and how He loves and cares for His children–and so much more than I think I would have been able to understand without this circumstance in my life. But I won’t lie–sometimes the circumstance is difficult. Sometimes it seems like it could be unbearable.
In the past I have cried out to God and begged Him to take it way. Paul did the same thing with his thorn in the flesh. And God answered him with a promise that His strength would be make perfect in Paul’s weakness. I have been asking God to teach me through my circumstances to understand what Paul said when he proclaimed that most gladly therefore would he rather glory in his infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon Him.
I came across a passage in Jeremiah that I had read many times over but had never before thought much about or at least never sought to apply it to my life in any way more than a warm, fuzzy feeling that God had good thoughts toward me. This time I studied the chapter and learned something wonderful that I have been able to cling to in my struggles and doubts recently.
Jeremiah 29:11–For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
The Israelites, God’s people, had been taken captive by the Babylonians. They were prisoners, most likely slaves, strangers in a foreign land. God gives them a promise in verse 10. He promises them He will free them! Wonderful! But one little detail–that freedom will come in seventy years. Seventy years! Most of the people hearing that promise would remain in their captivity and never see the promise come to fruition.
What a seemingly unbearable circumstance! To be given a promise that would fulfill your greatest longing, but to have to wait SO LONG to receive that promise!
But the wonderful thing is that God doesn’t just slap them with that promise and leave them to their own devices. Before He even gives them that promise, He tells them how He wants them to live while they are waiting for His promise.
4 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. 8 For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord. 10 For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
God tells them to live as normally as they possibly can. To set up homes and raise families. To grow the nation. He also tells them to seek peace with their captors. He tells them to pray for those who have caused their tough circumstances. He warns them not to believe false promises made by deceivers and even not to believe any false promises that may rise in their own hearts.
God then shows them His heart in verse 11. He tells them of his thoughts toward them. To give them peace and not evil. To give them their expected end–to give them the thing He has promised.
In my circumstance, I can trust God to have those same thoughts toward me. To give me peace and not evil. To give me my expected end. My expected end most likely won’t be a miraculous healing. (Though He is very capable to give me that healing. And He is good whether or not healing comes.) But I do have the promise that one day I will be like Him. And I can live my life as normally as possible while I wait for that the expected end of becoming like Him. I can pray that He would teach me more about Him and grow me to be more like Him as I deal with things. I can guard my heart and not believe false promises. I can choose to trust Him, to trust His promise, and to trust that following His advice will move me closer to receiving my expected end.
If you’re struggling with a seemingly unbearable circumstance, may I ask if you would seek the Lord and trust Him? He knows his thoughts toward you. Thoughts of peace and not of evil. To give you your expected end.