What do you do when you find yourself in a place you do not want to be? I find myself in a couple of places in which I do not want to be. For starters, my husband is chronically ill. That’s not a place I wanted to be, but I am there. I am the breadwinner for our family. That’s not a position I would have chosen to be in, but I am there. I am in a difficult profession, longing for a change. And yet again, I am in another place I do not want to be.
In Jeremiah 29, the children of Israel found themselves in a place they did not want to be. They had been carried off into exile and were in Babylon. This is what God told them, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:5-7 NIV).
What is God saying here? He’s telling his people to live. Don’t stop living just because you find yourself in a place you do not want to be. Seek peace and God’s prosperity even in the midst of that place. Paul did that. He was imprisoned and continued to preach. He preached to his fellow prisoners. He preached to the guards. He preached to whomever was near. He also wrote letters to the churches encouraging them, building them up, and instructing them. This challenges me. If I am honest, I think my response to being imprisoned would be one of crying out to God, asking him why he put me there.
Joseph did that. His brothers sold him into slavery, but he continued to live life wherever he found himself. He didn’t give up and throw a pity party for himself. He took it all in stride and continued to live.
After reading this passage in Jeremiah, I realize that I must continue to live, grow, and bloom right where I find myself even if it’s not in a place I want to be. I didn’t choose chronic illness for my spouse. I didn’t choose to be the main source of income for our family. I did choose my profession, but I never imagined that I would get to the place I am in now where my desire for the job has faded and I really just want out. Until God opens new doors, I must continue to live, serving God to the best of my ability and allowing him to use me in whatever way he sees fit.