By Ellen Di Giosia
Where did you last see this passage? Let me guess – a pen? A coffee cup? A wall hanging? Step into a Christian bookstore, and it will be on all sorts of merchandise. I get it – it’s awfully reassuring to think, “Hey! There’s a plan!” But anything that will fit on a t-shirt risks becoming trite.
Jeremiah is intense. God’s people are in exile. They have been wrenched from their homeland and resettled in Babylon. They can’t understand the language. They don’t know what they will eat or where they will live. They’re probably wondering, “Can God even travel this far?” False prophets tell them that they will get to go home soon – any minute now, in fact. But Jeremiah says something different: “Work. Plant a garden. Build a life. And pray for your neighbors.”
What kind of plan is that?!? I’d want to go home as quickly as possible, and I sure don’t have any intention of dealing with foreigners. It would be easy to see God as cruel or distant. But God insists, “I’ve got this. I’m not out to hurt you, but to give you a future full of promise. So don’t quit now. Call on me, search me out. I am here with you in exile, just as I was with you at home. I will not leave you alone.”
Advent is a season of hope, but many feel exiled – away from loved ones, unable to enjoy the lights and the glitter, or wondering how they will pay for it all. Why not just quit the whole thing?
Don’t quit now. God is with you. Emmanuel. And the future is bright, even if it’s lit by just one candle at a time.