Finding Our Welfare
“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." - Jeremiah 29:11
If social media and personal conversations are any indication, it is safe to say that we, as a society, are not where we would like to be. Social distancing has become too much even for introverts. Families have been put in jeopardy because of job loss. Routines have been radically altered, and the awareness of potential disease is a constant reality. Some of us have likely experienced moments when we would like to cover our heads and wait for it all to change. If that describes you, then take heart. You are in good company.
Comparing our current situation to Hebrew exiles in Babylon is in many ways “apples to oranges." Still, there is one thing we certainly have in common with those exiles. Like us, they definitely did not want to be where they were. They, too, probably spent much time trying to withdraw from their current reality, wishing it would all go away. It is to people, in just such a situation, God sent a message of encouragement. God did not want the people to simply survive; God wanted them to thrive. Their current reality was not going to change anytime soon, so God essentially told them to seek, work, and pray for the best that can come in their current reality. Why? Because their own welfare was connected to the welfare of their current situation (Jer. 29:7).
The words of Jeremiah 29:11 are among the favorites of many Christians. It is important for us to remember these words were spoken to people who may easily have felt despondent—much like many of us feel today. Perhaps we, too, need to be reminded God has not abandoned us, God is working through us even now, and God sees a future for us that might be difficult for us to grasp. Knowing this can greatly impact how we face today. May God give us grace that, while we look to the future with hope, we might live in the fullness of God even during these difficult times.
Rev. David Cartwright is Pastor of Russell Memorial UMC in Wills Point, Texas. If you are ever in the area, their congregation would love for you to worship with them.
COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of our lives and impacted all of us. While the process of ministry is changing, the responsibility to help those in need has not. Please share these reflections from pastors around the Texas Annual Conference with your friends: https://www.txcumc.org/coviddevotionals.
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