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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, June 27, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Jeremiah 28:5–9

Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.” (NRSV)

Hananiah and Jeremiah prophesy conflicting things. Hananiah says, “Don’t worry. This difficulty will end soon, and all will return to normal. Exile to Babylon will end quickly.” Jeremiah wishes that were true! “May the Lord do so,” he says. But he doesn’t believe it will happen like that.

Jeremiah prophesies difficult times going forward and has very important advice on how to get through those difficult times. In the next chapter Jeremiah reports that God says, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; . . . 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 29:5-7).

Even in exile, Jeremiah says, “Live!” And then these words of comfort: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). While Hananiah said relief would come after two years, Jeremiah said it would take seventy years before hope was realized. But hope would come!

The message Jeremiah brings to the people in exile is that when the suffering is long, find a new way of life. Build houses, plant gardens, love others, make families, and pray. Remember God. Our destinies are intertwined. Our welfare is dependent on the welfare of others. And God has plans for a future with hope. In the meantime, live, create, build, love.

Gracious God, fill us with patience and perseverance for the long haul. Give us a vision of life abundant, even when times are difficult. Help us to live, create, build, and love. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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