The Nativity figurine closeup photography
The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” [Jeremiah 29:3-7]

One thing people are craving right now is stability. We used to feel so safe, right? Everything worked just like it had for a long time. But this year has thrown so much off-kilter. People feel unsafe, unstable, and unprepared for tomorrow. We crave words and actions which will re-establish a sense of normalcy, and it seems like we are willing to sacrifice almost anything to make it happen. 

I imagine this must be like the Exiles in the Old Testament experienced. They were taken away from everything they knew: family, homeland, property, customs, the religious structure of the temple. They must have craved stability of some sort. And there were “prophets” ready to give it to them. “God will bring us back very soon!” “Be ready to leave!” “Don’t worry, listen to us!” All these voices arose, trying to speak stability into the lives of these people who were forced out of Israel. 

But exile was a test. Exile was a test from God, trying to get his people to find their stability not in land or possessions or religious practices or idolatry or kings, but rather to find it in God. No matter earthly circumstances, God’s people will have in him. “Build houses… plant gardens… get married… seek the welfare of the city…” In other words, do the normal things that people do when they have stability. God commanded his people through Jeremiah to find their stability in the promise of God. The promise of restoration and hope. 

Really, it is the same promise to which we cling. God has made us stable, through a baby born in a stable. Two newlyweds, traveling to Bethlehem, forced to have their first child in a stable, forced to flee because Herod wants to murder their son. What stability was there for them? Only the promise- this Child will be King forever. 

Indeed, our stability is rooted in the promise of Jesus, that he will bring us to himself, that his Kingdom will come, that God’s will will be done. No matter what the world throws at us, no matter our situation or circumstance, no matter chaos that swirls around us, we have permanent stability in Jesus. 

Like the exiles so long ago, let God’s stability guide you in your earthly life, too. 

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that have given us solid ground at the foot of the cross, promising us eternal life in Jesus. Let us live in your stability, even when our world is so chaotic and unpredictable. Empower us to make decisions based on your truth and not the feelings of hopelessness coming from our instability in the present moment. Thank you for the Holy Spirit, who guides us now and forever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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