Many of us in the church today can quote Jeremiah 29:10. We tend to quote that verse when we are in times of hardship, in time of trials, or even in times of uncertainty. However, many of us don’t know what came before this infamous verse. We don’t know what God spoke to the people, just a couple of verse before in verse 4-9, telling them what it is that they were to do during this hard time.

4This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6Marry 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. 7Also, 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.” 8Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

God has come and is speaking to them in a time of exile, in a time that uncertainty, worry, and despair are at an all-time high. They have been taken from everything that they knew, to a foreign place, and forced to live with people that they didn’t know, a language that they didn’t speak, and a culture that they didn’t understand. Everything was new, forced, scary, and uncertain. They couldn’t see what their next step would be. Many may have felt like they were abandoned and forgotten by God, yet God stepped in.

It is easy in times like these to want to give up, to feel the weight of everything crashing down on you. When uncertainty comes in, we can easily give into the weight of it all. Feeling crushed by it, we start to doubt our ability to work or even live within it. Sometimes it can feel ever-so-easy to just give up, to let the world just pass us by and stop trying. Many of the Israelite people felt this way, so God stepped in. God told them not to give up. To live their lives, make the best of the hard situation and settle down into the place that they are now living. To pray during this time, for good to come out of it. Yet still, God gave them a warning, telling them not to listen to those that speak to their dreams, for they are not from God. God is reminding them that it is easy to give into fantasies when one is in uncertainty but is another thing to speak those fantasies as truth. We can to this too.

It is easy for us, when we are in times of uncertainty, to make up fantasies about the future, how we want the future to be. We believe, hope, and dream so much for this fantasy to be true, that we forget the reality that we are living in. We replace a hard, sometime cruel reality for a fantasy land made up inside our head. Forgetting all that God is calling us to be and do in the reality that we are living. Hope is not gone. Sorrow doesn’t last forever. We must learn to lean on the words of God during times of uncertainty. We must remember the promises that God has breathed into our lives and keep on living into the reality that we are in. Despite the uncertainty that may be within it.

~ Pastor Jillian