Our natural reaction is to solve it. Overcome it. Get out from under it. We are always looking for the first opportunity to escape. We pray for it. We long and ache for it. We claim it and declare it. We grit our teeth hoping we can will our way out of it. We convince ourselves that the manhole out of the sewer is just around the corner.
I’m talking about that time of unemployment, sickness, marital problems… We start out strong, ready to fight. But, with each passing day, our fight gives way to depression and our hope dwindles into survival mode. Why is this lasting so long?
When you are doing any type of endurance sport, the worst thing that you can do is to mentally gauge how much further you have. It is best to just keep going and to not even think about the end. Occasionally, get your bearings with a map or GPS, but never estimate it in your mind. You will be wrong and you will become deflated when you realize that you have much further to go than you thought. The second worst thing you can do is to think about your bed.
Israel was in exile and they still had a long way to go, but a prophet named Hananiah thought the end was within reach. “Within two years”, he said “this exile will be over.” (Jeremiah 28:3) “God affirms it”, he said. He was wrong. Dead wrong. (28:15-16) In fact, they had a long way to go.
Undoubtedly, if you have spent anytime within a community of Christians during a time of trouble, you have heard Jeremiah 29:11 quoted. Maybe you have even quoted it to yourself. It is our feel good, go-to verse about overcoming our current situation. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord ‘plans to prosper and not to harm you…’ ”
The problem is that we skip over verse 10. “When seventy years are completed…” SEVENTY! In the context of unemployment, sickness or a bad relationship, seventy years is literally a lifetime. Imagine being a fifty year old Israelite when you heard the promise of Jeremiah 29:11. It would not have been that great of news.
Forget about the end. You have to learn to live in this. You have to build your house and plant your garden in this land even though you do not want to be here long enough to do so. You need to make peace with where you are and the “city” that you are in. (29:5,7)
Tomorrow you will have to go in for that treatment. Tomorrow you will look for a job on the internet until your eyes hurt and you will rewrite your resume thirty times. (I have been there) Tomorrow, your marriage will still have problems. Making peace with it is not giving up. It is not crawling back into bed and pulling the dirty sheets of depression over your un-showered self and quitting. (Been there too)
Making peace with it is similar to hiking fifty miles without stopping. There is an end, but at mile twenty-seven, the hope of the end does not alleviate the pain of the present. At that point, hope just makes you more aware of your pain. At mile twenty-seven, you just need to concentrate on walking. Put your head down and walk no matter how ungraceful each step appears. Make peace with it, because making war just creates casualties.
Hope in God’s promises and His prosperous intentions is good, but do not skip verse ten and go straight to eleven. Settle in. It may or may not be a while. Do not put life on hold until “then.” Plant a garden, build a home and make peace with where you are.