This morning, I thought about exile. Essentially, this isn’t our true country or our true home; we are “foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). Our citizenship isn’t here. It’s in heaven (Philippians 3:20). As I drove to work, I asked God to help me to remember how to live while in exile. In exile, nothing feels like home. In this strange land, people shoot one another. People suffer from cancer. People deal with trauma from their childhoods and never feel right inside. People don’t worship a holy God. People have been deceived into thinking evil is good and good evil. It’s an upside down world. Remind me how to live here. Remind me what to do.
I think of the word of God to exiles in Jeremiah 29. The words bring deep comfort and direction as I consider how much suffering and confusion exists in this place that’s not my home:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry 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. Also, 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.”
The verbs help me. Build. Settle down. Plant. Eat. Marry. Have a family. Let my children marry. Increase. Seek peace and prosperity for my city. Pray for it. I park my car and walk to my office. I work. I pray. I seek peace.