Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord… – Jeremiah 29:12-14 ESV These verses contain a promise of God made to the people of Judah who were living as exiles in the land of Babylon. It was part of a message sent by God in the form of a letter written by Jeremiah the prophet. God had given the nation of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, just as He had said He would. Now He was giving them instructions on how to conduct their lives while there. God told them, “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” (Jeremiah 29:5-6 ESV). In other words, they were to prepare for a lengthy stay and make the most of it by living their lives as normally as possible. He also instructed them to “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 29:7 ESV). Rather than pouting and moaning, whining or complaining, they were to build, plant, marry, multiply, and pray for the welfare of their new community. This was going to be their new home for the next 70 years. And they needed to see their circumstances as divinely ordained by God. He had put them there and He wanted them to accept their situation as having come from His hand. They weren't to listen to anyone who might show up claiming to be speaking for God and giving them false hope or alternative instructions. Their stay was going to last 70 years because that is exactly what God had said. “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10 ESV).
So often, we let our circumstances determine our view of God. We look around us and decide that whatever it is we are going through could not be God's will for our lives, so we begin to doubt and despair. We start to look for alternative solutions to our situation and novel ways to escape whatever predicament in which we find ourselves. We stop looking for God in the midst of the problem, and start seeking Him outside of it – on the other side of it. We fail to realize that He is there. We lose sight of the fact that He has us right where He wants us. God told the people of Judah living in exile, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV). God always has a plan. Our problem, in our limitations as human beings, is that we can't see God's plans for our lives. We don't always know what He is doing or why. So we panic. We despair. We get antsy and start trying to figure out a escape plan, never realizing that the problem we are trying to get away from is actually part of His plan.
It is interesting to note that our verses for today follow God's promise of restoration at the end of 70 years of captivity. It says, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me…” After seven decades of living as exiles in Babylon; building homes, having babies, raising their families, planting crops, settling down and wondering if God was ever going to hear their prayers, suddenly He would answer. All throughout their time in captivity, the people of Judah would have been praying for restoration. They would have been asking God to forgive them, to hear their cries for help and to restore them to the land. But for 70 years, it wold appear that God was not listening. It would seem as if God had abandoned them. But He tells them then – at just the right time – He will do what He has promised to do. Not sooner or later, but then. God's timing is perfect. He plan is perfect. He knows what He is doing whether we understand it or even like it. We can trust Him. We are to seek Him continually and consistently. And He promises that we will find Him. God told the people of Judah that when the 70 years was up, “I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:14 ESV).
A big part of seeking God is not just to get what we think we need, but to discover His will regarding our life. It is to see His plan even in the midst of our problems. It is to learn to trust Him even when our problems appear greater than His presence. God is there. He has a plan. And if we persist in praying, seeking, waiting, and trusting, the day will come when He reveals Himself, His plan, His power, and His divine solution to our problem – at just the right time. Keep seeking and you will find.