Jeremiah 29:7 “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.”
Two things here. One is that, as it says repeatedly in this letter, God is the one who carried the Jews into exile. The immediate agents were the Babylonians, but God was the mover here. The Jews had earned this exile, though they didn’t want it. When we spend our time grumbling about our circumstances we are wasting energy and time. We need to seek God’s purposes for allowing our circumstances, and ask Him how we’re to use our time. The second thing is that the better our environment becomes, the better it is for us. If your employer does well, you’re more likely to get a raise. One reason America has prospered so much is that many of the immigrants took this principle to heart. Elon Musk is a case in point. He has greatly benefited the nation, providing good jobs to tens of thousands of people, and in the process has become one of the richest men on the planet. He chose to move to America from his native South Africa, but the Jews certainly didn’t choose to go to Babylon. Regardless, the principle is still the same. Complaining is the opposite of gratitude, and many studies, along with personal experience, show us that gratitude is the key to happiness. And who doesn’t want to be happy? That’s one reason wealthy people, especially with inherited wealth, are often unhappy: taking their wealth for granted, they fail to be grateful. The Jews in Babylon needed to be grateful that they were at least alive, and that God was still God, though they had been ignoring Him. Verse 11 of this chapter very famously speaks of God’s plans for His children, and the next two verses are deeply comforting as well, though they again state that God has put them into this situation. We need to let go of our pride and be grateful for God’s mercy and grace, understanding how dependent on it we really are.
This certainly applies to me. God has been incredibly gracious to me all my life, but my gratitude for that hasn’t been constant. I have done my share of complaining! That said, I think I have been more grateful than many, and so have been more happy than most, perhaps. I’m reminded of a video I saw a while back of a young boy at Christmas, I think it was. His parents thought they were pranking him, telling him an empty box was his gift, but he was absolutely delighted with the box, and overflowed with joy. I know that God doesn’t give me anything I don’t need or can’t use, but I forget that at times. I am to focus on thanking and praising God for everything in my life, knowing that if I will do so, His peace will indeed guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Father, thank You indeed for Your incredible grace and mercy toward me. Help me recognize it consistently, always walking in gratitude so that I will be available for You to do through me whatever You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!