MERIDIAN — "For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." — Jeremiah 29:10-13
Either challenging times draw us to God, or, cause us to walk away. The context of this scripture in Jeremiah is that the Jews have been taken into captivity in Babylon. Their reaction is one of disbelief and a hope that the troubles will end soon. The fact is they will be in exile for 70 years.
In the midst of this crisis, the prophet Jeremiah encourages the exiles to draw toward God. Several points revealed in this scripture indicate drawing to God in times of trouble is the best choice:
1. God plans to rescue us. Like Jews in Babylon, we find ourselves in a life situation that is tentative and dangerous. We may feel unsure of our spiritual relationship with God and even doubt if He can help. The Lord promised the Jews they would be restored. Ultimately, they would be back in the Promised Land. Many speak as if God will not help our current environment. God is faithful and capable of solving any challenge we face. All we must do is be patient and faithful where we are.
2. God has positive thoughts about us. The Lord expresses confidence in His intent toward the oppressed. His thoughts and plans have to do with peace. His thoughts are not about evil. Even when God disciplines us for turning away, His discipline is for bringing us back, not turning us away. We can assume God wants to bless and thinks of us with affection.
3. God wants to give us a future with hope. Without God, our future may seem bleak. With the Lord, our future is positive. In difficult times, we need to trust ourselves less and trust God more. The more we find ourselves in trouble, the more we should seek God’s guidance in working out complex issues and difficult situations. He promises that if we call upon Him, He will listen.
4. God wants us to find Him. The Lord wants us to know we are not alone. However, we must make a priority on seeking Him before we find that fellowship with God we need. God will be found when we seek Him with all our heart.
It could be that life has pushed you away from the religious heritage you once knew. You may think, “What is the use in praying. Nothing is going to happen.” Maybe God is trying to show you that you need a relationship with God, not a denomination, or ritual, or tradition.
In your despair about life, hear God urging you to believe He cares. He wants to be your solution, not only to the issues at hand, but eternity! Why not turn from all the distractions and enticements this materialistic culture offers and come back to the place where life was more peaceful. That peace is found when you find your world is placed in the hands of a faithful God who lovingly guides you out of your predicament.
Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www. psdbc.org.