– January 5, 2021 –
I have been spending time in the Psalms lately. They seem to say what I am feeling and thinking, particularly in this time when conversation often turns to laments, disappointments, fear, and sadness. Do we listen to God, or do we respond the way the Children of Israel responded in Psalm 137? Their captors in Babylon (v.3) wanted the Israelites to introduce them to their folk music, but they refused. Their answer seemed to be, we can’t sing these songs because:
- They were in captivity in Babylon. Their social infrastructure was gone.
- Their businesses were completely shattered.
- They were forced to learn a new culture and language.
- They were so sad and depressed that they lost heart to even sing and dance – they had hung up their instruments.
- They had a hostile view of the present and future that led them to destructive thoughts.
Life at this time is not what it was; we can relate. In a small way, it reminds me of a time when I was part of a praise band which I loved. Without warning a couple of key team members had to depart and the group dissolved. I was so bummed that I would look at my instrument in the corner and turn away. I was surprised when I realized that I had avoided picking up that instrument for over year!
It is natural that we desire and pray for an end to the pandemic trial and a return to familiar blessing. Yet perhaps God has something for us to learn at this time. How can we make it our priority to reflect Christ in that place where we are?
God had already addressed this situation for his people. He had given a message through the prophet Jeremiah as to how to manage during this time. Jeremiah 29:1-10 is written to “to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon” (v. 1). Here is what God said to his people then, and perhaps we can hear him saying this to us:
- Your disruption was my doing. I am not distant, uncaring, or disengaged from you.
- Embrace your situation, build new infrastructure, new businesses even in this time.
- Get married, have kids. Build new families.
- Accept, no, embrace your new situation. The peace you bring through your business and social interactions will bring the same to others, and to yourself.
- Do not pay attention to people who use My name to keep you focused on the past. In Jeremiah’s situation, it was people prophesying or having dreams that God was going to turn everything around. God says, “I didn’t send them” (v. 9-10).
- Rest in the stability of the promises God makes.
In disrupting their world, God incorporated the exiles into his greater plan, making them a vital part of preparing the way for the Savior of us all.
I would love to see things go back to the way they were, but not at the expense of having the priceless honor of partnering with God in his plan.
KIROS Board Member