For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. (Jeremiah 29:10-12)
This verse is a favorite for many Christians today. It is difficult to avoid the temptation of making these words about each of us individually when they can offer such comfort. The "you" here is plural. Spoken in context of a 70 year exile for the Israelites during which God’s people suffered terribly, the words that God has a plan in the future were, in fact, not much comfort. The plan of hope and future was certain, but it was not on the timetable desired by the Israelites. They wanted, expected something much more immediate. This is not different for us today.
Time is a significant element of Lent. This season is based on a framework of specific time. The times of fellowship and a meal, betrayal, crucifixion, and ultimate victory in resurrection move us through this season. This too is God’s time. We may not understand it. We may stand in the way of it. We may get ahead of it. That places us in good company with the Israelites and Jesus' disciples.
Take a moment to reflect on what God has in store for our community and pray to let God use you in that plan.
God of all of our pain, suffering, hope and jubilation, let our collective words, thoughts and deeds point to you and your plan. Love and guide us, grant us grace, remind us when we forget. Amen.
Lori Chidgey - Hopeful pilgrim