I love to read the Bible, especially those books that are chock-filled with encouragement and hope. Some books are easier to swallow than others. To be honest, Numbers is just not one of my favorite books. Revelation is not a breeze to read and understand. Although I realize that every word in Scripture is there on purpose and there’s something to glean from every book, I have to admit that there are some books that I lean more towards than others. However, sometimes I do feel prompted to read a book that’s not the easiest or most encouraging to read.
For example, lately I’ve felt compelled to read the book of Jeremiah. And Jeremiah is–well, it’s not a fun read. It’s the story of Jeremiah urging the people of Judah to repent of their idolatry and wickedness or else face captivity by Babylon as their punishment.
Eventually, the people of Judah were taken into captivity for seventy years by the Babylonians. In chapter 29, Jeremiah sends a letter to the exiles, which includes these instructions:
The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, sends this message to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build houses, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food you produce. Marry, and have children. Then find spouses for them, and have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
I find it encouraging (and convicting) that God expected His people to be fruitful no matter where they were. Even though their exile was a result of their own stubborn refusal to turn from their sins, He still intended to bless them through it.
It’s easy for me to make excuses for being unproductive because I may be in a place that I don’t want to be or things may not be going as I would want them to go. That doesn’t excuse me from being productive for God. Regardless of where I am, God continues to give me the resources to bear fruit in His name. Especially in situations that I don’t like, I want to stop making excuses and let God work through me. Sometimes seeing that fruit can make difficult situations much more bearable and give hope that better days are ahead.