I sit here early this morning in my office. It’s my sanctuary of sorts, especially during this season. In the midst of these current circumstances: the pandemic, the derecho and its devastation, our country’s divisiveness, and living in times unexperienced before. Because, like you, my desire is not just to survive these times, but to thrive in them.
How can we make the best of our current circumstances?
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked myself and God this question. Friend, how are you making the best of your current circumstances?
I received an answer last night as our small group from church gathered online for our bi-monthly meet up. We studied a passage in the book of Jeremiah, and as I dug a little deeper, I felt encouragement well up inside of me. Here’s what I found in Jeremiah 29:4-14.
God’s people were taken captive and forced to go from their home, Jerusalem, to a foreign land, Babylon. As a result, many of the captives were taken to the city of Babylon about 600 miles east of Jerusalem in what is now modern-day Iraq.
Imagine their hardship… taken from the Land of Promise they knew, to be strangers in an unfamiliar land. Imagine how they longed to return to their home. Maybe you and I can relate a little. It’s possible we feel we’re in our own captivity of sorts in this pandemic where nothing is familiar. Also, you and I might long for what used to be.
How did these people—God’s people—become captives in Babylon? Did you read verse 4? God sent His own people into exile! (Does this make anyone else uncomfortable but me?) Why? Was it because of their sin, or to draw them back to Him? Was He preparing them for their future, or were there other reasons we may not know?
No matter, God knows what He’s doing and we can trust Him.
Now, I’m not accusing God of causing this pandemic, because I don’t believe that’s the case. But, He did allow it. I believe He not only used the exile for the people’s good back then, but He’s also using this season for our good as well.
Consequently, did you catch the instructions God gave His people for living in this strange land in verses 5-9? He told them to build houses, make homes, plant gardens, eat the produce, marry, have children (and the children to marry and have children), multiply and prosper, work for success of and pray for the city, and to not listen to false prophets and teachers.
He didn’t tell them to shrink back, to hide or fight. No, He instructed them to thrive in their current circumstances in this new strange land. He desired them to prosper and multiply, to be a blessing, and to shine bright in their communities.
They were instructed to make the best of their current circumstances.
We can, too. Actually, we can apply these same instructions to our own circumstances today.
1. Accept where we are.
Trust God knows what He’s doing in our situations, even if we personally can’t see it. Pray and ask Him to encourage our hearts. Accept where you and I are and give ourselves permission to thrive in our current circumstances. Let’s allow ourselves to see the blessings around us. Likewise, to dwell on what’s positive, uplifting, encouraging.
2. Use what God has given us.
Let’s recognize what we’re good at. For example, what are your gifts and talents? What are you passionate about? Now is the time to utilize what you’ve been given and grow these gifts. Be a blessing to others by using them. No one else has the exact same gifting as you, so bless the world with your gifts.
3. Determine to thrive.
Take care of yourself. Learn something new every day. Read your Bible and/or join a Bible study. In other words, stay close to God. Follow His leading. Think and say what’s positive about you, others, your life. Why not step out of your comfort zone?
4. Help others thrive.
Encourage instead of comparing. Bless instead of competing. We can find ways to help others succeed and thrive. Let’s get involved in bettering the world around us. When others succeed, we succeed.
5. Be wise and discerning.
Certainly, let’s tune out what’s false and dwell on what’s true. Hang around people who build us up and desire God’s best for our lives. Stay true to who you are no matter what others say/do. Let go of what robs you of your joy, and cling to what/who inspires you.
As we read on to verses 11-14, God not only gives us instructions to thrive in our current circumstances, He gives us hope for our future!
I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.Jeremiah 29:11 NCV
Consequently, our future is in His hands. He’s taking care of us, friend. We have nothing to worry about, nor nothing to fear. We have hope for the future, as well in our current circumstances. Thrive, right where you are!
I pray this encourages your heart today, friend. It certainly encourages mine. Continue to make the best of these current circumstances by applying the five ways above. In doing so, we will thrive! What a glorious hope we have, right here, today!
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