Jeremiah 29: 7 (Good News Translation).
Work for the good of the cities where I have made you go as prisoners. Pray to me on their behalf, because if they are prosperous, you will be prosperous too.
The people of Israel were taken as prisoners by king Nebuchadnezzar and were exiled in Babylon. This was allowed by God after their many years of blatant disobedience and disrespect towards God. So, verse 7… sounds crazy right? I’m sure the Israeli’s minds were going crazy thinking, first I am a prisoner, I am not supposed to be here, I don’t want to be here; this king and his people have taken me away from my land, my home, and to add insult to injury, You Lord want me to work for the good of this place and pray for the people in charge! They were not ordinary prisoners, because of the God they believed in, the prayers they sent up to heaven combined with hard work benefited their oppressors which in turn benefited them.
I don’t know what it looks like for you, but at some point in your life, you have been thrust into unfamiliar, dangerous, painful territory and have felt exiled or imprisoned. God’s word tells and shows us time and time again that, in what feels like exile, when we are depleted of our resources, abilities, He still has a plan for us. Only when we play our role which is to pray and do good works in the place that we’re in. Before I continue, the key phrase here is “when God allows it” because the truth is sometimes we imprison and exile ourselves out of our own doing, our own wickedness.
I was very happy to come across this verse because I too have faced difficult moments where I knew God was the conductor but they were still painful nonetheless. In said moments, I felt stuck and yes I did pray but I cannot say it was sincere because I did not
consider that God had a better outcome for me or I was not ready to believe God had better plans for me, I was focused on the situation and did not see the opportunity God provided in the midst of the storm to pray for others, especially the others that were antagonists. I did not consider that God had given me the ability to increase in number in that situation.
At the end of chapter 29, God promises that HE will bring us back home, that He will answer our prayers because we will know exactly who we are praying to and what we are praying for, we will find Him because we will seek him with all our hearts.
You are no ordinary prisoner, if by God’s doing you are called slave, prisoner, then rejoice because you are indeed free. And He needs to see from us that we merit that freedom, that once He gives it back that we will be humble that in the prison period, we will seek him and call on His name. Remember, in our weakness He is made strong, in our weakness there is total dependency and surrender, in our weakness we do not boast of ourselves but rather boast in Him.
***in different versions and translations, the word foreigner has been used instead of slave or prisoner.
NO ORDINARY PRISONER!
Does this resonate with you? Have you recognized some of the prison periods in your life as God’s way of transforming you? How did you respond to His call for you to endure suffering or His call to wait?