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July 24, 2020

This is one of my favorite stories: A farmer and his family were experiencing a period of extreme drought. In frustration, the farmer gathered his family around the breakfast table and prayed, “God, please make it rain soon, we so desperately need it to survive.” After he had finished, the farmer got up from the table and went to leave the house. “Dad, where are you going?” his 6-year-old daughter asked. “I’m going out to inspect the damaged crops. Why?” “Take an umbrella,” she advised. “Don’t be silly,” the farmer replied, “it hasn’t rained in months.” “Yes, I know, but we just prayed for rain. Don’t you believe that God can answer our prayers?” The farmer looked at the umbrella next to the open door. He look out at the cloudless sky. He looked at his daughter’s innocent face. He sensed a voice speaking within him. “It’s great to pray. It’s better to believe that your prayers can come true. But what I want is for you to act in anticipation of the miracle that you are after.” The farmer walked up to his daughter, kissed her on the forehead and then picked up the umbrella on his way out the door, twirling it in his hand as he walked down the path.
“In the year 626 BC, when Jeremiah was just a youth, God called him to speak boldly to the Jewish people. Many had turned away from God, pursuing idols, and because of this, God told Jeremiah to warn them that he would remove his protection from his faithless people. He warned that the Babylonians were coming and would take control of the land. If they resisted the Babylonians, Jerusalem and its temple would be destroyed, and the Jewish people would be taken into exile in Babylon. No one wanted to hear Jeremiah’s words. The king and leaders were angry with him. Some of the people wanted to stone him. Meanwhile, Judah’s false prophets told a different story, urging the king and his people to resist the Babylonians, trusting that God would deliver the people from the hands of their enemies. Jeremiah was arrested, persecuted, and harassed for calling the people of Jerusalem and their king to repent of their sins and surrender to the Babylonians. But he kept issuing his warnings that Judah would be destroyed if it didn’t surrender. In 597 BC, the Babylonian army plundered Jerusalem, installing a new king and taking many of Judah’s leaders to Babylon as captives. After another rebellion eleven years later, Jerusalem was destroyed, just as Jeremiah had predicted.
Jeremiah 29 is a letter to the first group of exiles, written just after they were taken to Babylon in 597 BC. This letter also includes the best-known and most-loved passage in the book, Jeremiah 29:11. Most who quote it don’t know its context. Its words are so powerful, they have encouraged countless people in the twenty-six hundred years since Jeremiah penned them.
‘I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me. I will be present for you, declares the Lord, and I will end your captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have scattered you, and I will bring you home after your long exile, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
What do these words have to do with us today? Why are they so often quoted and clung to by people of faith? Because we see in these words a picture of our own lives when things go wrong. And we hear in these words a promise from God, not only for them but for us. God will not abandon us. God hears us when we pray and wishes to give us a future with hope. God didn’t rescue the Jewish people overnight. They lived in exile for decades. But they faced their exile with hope, knowing that God had plans for them, and that these plans, however distant in the future they might be, were plans for peace – they were plans filled with hope. Seek him, call upon him, and trust Him. He has plans to give you a future with hope. (Adam Hamilton, Living Unafraid)
Are you acting as if your prayers will be answered and there is a future with hope? Pray, and take an umbrella. I close with a prayer from Adam Hamilton: Lord, in my moments of exile, the times when I feel alone, afraid, uncertain about the future, help me to trust you. At this moment, I trust my future to you. And I trust that you will rescue me from exile, and that you have plans for me, plans to give me a future with hope. Amen. God bless and God’s got this!

About Rev. Bud Budzinski

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