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home : religion : e-religion December 11, 2019

9/29/2019 12:11:00 AM
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Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is  10% what happens to you and  90% how you react to it.'

Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 
10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.'

Rev. Susan Smith Walker
Emanuel Reformed Church

In 586 BC, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar invaded and destroyed Jerusalem. After that, many of the Jewish people were forced to go into exile in Babylon. They were ripped out of their homes, torn away from their land, and forced to leave the only life they knew. Everything they had worked for was gone and their future seemed hopeless. It would have been easy for them to give up, but God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the situation and he wrote a letter to the Jews in exile to let them know that their exile would not be permanent.

Jeremiah 29:4-6 says “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 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.”

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God was telling the Jewish people to keep living as normally as possible in their distress because in 70 years he would bring them back to their homeland. Even though that was good news, I’m sure 70 years sounded like a very, very long time. Telling them to keep on living as normally as possible while God worked it out was the best thing they could do. Giving up was not an option.

In the same way, in the midst of trouble when we are in crisis, we may feel we have been exiled from the life we knew. Things were better before the storm came into our life. Now we may feel like the promises of God are very far away, but the message Jeremiah brought to the Jewish people in exile is the same for us today. We need to keep on living as normally as possible through our distress because it is the best thing we can do to get through the storm. Giving up is not an option. God has a plan to bring us out just like God had a plan to bring them out.  

Jeremiah 29:11-13
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.

Although the Jews suffered greatly and faced powerful cultural pressures in a foreign land, they maintained their national spirit and religious identity. They may have lost a lot, but they hadn’t lost everything, and so it is with us. Even in the midst of our struggle, we haven’t lost everything. If we will seek God sincerely with our whole heart, we will find Him in the situation like a light at the end of the tunnel. As long as we keep our focus on Him and believe that he has good things in store for us, we can keep going. We can keep putting one foot in front of the other one even when we don’t feel like it, and in time God will bring us out.   

Rev. Walker is the pastor of Emanuel Reformed Church and she can be reached at 828-962-8196 or

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