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God doesn’t change our circumstances; he wants to change our heart.

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Read Jeremiah 29:4-14

Living where you don’t want to be is difficult, especially if it wasn’t your choice. When differing customs or unfamiliar practices are involved, further difficulties arise. This is where the Israelites found themselves when Jeremiah wrote these words. They were in Babylon, exiled.

After being violently removed from their cities and villages and forced to march to an unfamiliar place, they didn’t know what to do. They lost family and friends as well as homes and jobs. They had new prophets claiming to speak in the name of God. Life was confusing and unsettled.

We can find ourselves in similar situations of confusion and fear of the unknown. When we seek advice, sometimes it’s not always valid. But, Jeremiah’s advice came from God. He told them to get on with life. The Israelites had a seventy year promise of return which may have lightened the burden of this strange place but that didn’t diminish their loss. Sometimes we don’t have that stake in the ground to hold on to. The only thing we have is our need to continue where we are – knowing God’s been faithful to us in the past, and his faithfulness will continue.

As we wait in periods of unknown for God to reveal his plan for our lives, we need to make sure we’re not passive. Just as Jeremiah tells the exiles to continue on with their daily lives, these words echo down to us to continue on as we wait. Simply put, we need to “get on with life.”  We need to feed our souls, work on expanding God’s kingdom, be a blessing to those around us, and pray for their needs.  Certainly some of the exiles didn’t survive the seventy years, but they made the most of their lives while they were there. In seasons of waiting, most of the time God doesn’t change our circumstances; he wants to change our heart. God told Israel they’d have to wait, and he sometimes asks to wait. But, how we wait is up to us. Advent is a season built around waiting. It’s a season that beckons us to wait well – to wait with hope.

In seasons of waiting, it’s easy to become confused, not knowing what to do, but we can keep our eye’s alert to opportunity and our ears ready to listen. James says, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him and he will gladly tell you” (James 1:5 TLB). Ask the Lord for what you can do today and when you do, be sure to both listen and look for his answer.

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By Rich Obrecht

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