I’m sitting in my office this morning not really knowing where to start. There are preparations that need to happen for our Fall Break trip next week to New York for a human trafficking seminar, the protest we’re going to tomorrow, CROP Walk next week and the next, and Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. I am feeling discouraged and frustrated and tired and I have to admit, a little angry.
Angry? Do you ask? No idea. Maybe it’s all the layers and layers of things that have been heavy on my heart. Maybe it’s feeling like it is always one step forward and two steps back. Maybe it’s being tired of constantly being pulled in different directions and feeling like I’m having to absolutely fight tooth and nail for so much. Or maybe I’m just melodramatic. Could be.
The text I’m preaching this Sunday is Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 where Jeremiah is writing the remaining elders and all the other folks in exile. It’s an encouraging text in my mind because it shows yet again that even as the people are in exile, God is with them. They face the consequences of being in exile but God encourages them not to just sit and wait and do nothing but be miserable, but to settle in there and not just put roots there but to pray for this place and these people that they have been exiled to live with.
I also find it fascinating that this passage comes before the oft-quoted verse 11 – “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.” It continues on to verse 14 speaking of God’s faithfulness even in the midst of the present circumstance or consequence.
Everywhere I look there is an answer to prayer whether it be for my health or for our new air conditioner or the improvement with Enoch’s speech delay or the countless people stepping up to help Wesley. There are blessings all over the place and I am thankful. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not human and discouraged and frustrated and angry at times.
The awesome thing about our God is that we can be angry. We can be frustrated to be in exile. We can be sad or yell or whatever. And as Romans 8 on my bulletin board says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes….”
A friend posted this video on my facebook wall the other day and I LOVE it. We can get bogged down by the overwhelming to do list, the people that just aren’t happy with anything, the neverending demands for our time and attention, and our stark insecurities and inabilities but it all boils down to God’s love. All of the petty who likes me or agrees with me this week or am I in the cool crowd or not or the I’m just doing the best I can. God’s love is that thing that to me answers all the questions that roll around in my brain. All of the fears. The what ifs. The wish I could have done better with thats.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”