Motivation Monday with April - Living in the hard places As I have been reading through my Bible this year, recently I have been reading in Jeremiah about the exile of the children of Israel. As you know, during this time a large portion of Israel had been carried off to live in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Everything they knew of their former life was just a memory and they were having to adjust to living life in a strange, unfamiliar and foreign place. I can only imagine that their hearts yearned to go back to normal life. They missed the familiar sights and smells of their homeland. They missed their culture, the traditions, and the values that they had once held so dear. I’m sure they missed family and friends that had been left behind. They must have felt like their entire identity had been taken from them and they were searching for who they were supposed to be now. Of course, being in this situation, I am sure there were well-intentioned prophets who were saying things like “Just hold on! God will deliver us.” or “Our deliverance is coming soon! Don’t worry, we will be back in Israel soon!” But as I read in Jeremiah, I come across a very strange portion of scripture. Jeremiah 29:4-7 is part of a letter the prophet Jeremiah sent to the exiles. It says “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them: plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But 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.” (There is some more after these verses that I encourage you to go read on your own!) I said to God, “This is so bizarre!! You told them to LIVE in the land of their exile?? You didn’t tell them to pack their bags and be ready to leave at any time? What is that about?” As a matter of fact, He told them to multiply there and DO NOT DECREASE! He didn’t want them just to live in exile but to THRIVE! I don’t know about you, but when I am in a place that is strange, unfamiliar, and foreign to me, I don’t want to “get used to it”. I WANT OUT, as soon as possible!! I don’t like different. I don’t like hard. I don’t like uncomfortable. I want to get back to my normal!! But I heard the Lord speak to me through this passage. “I want to do something in you while you are in this hard place. I want to blow your mind and show you that you can thrive in the most uncomfortable places because my favor is with you! And not only that, but I want to bless the people around you that you are in this hard place with…even possibly the people that are causing you to be uncomfortable! I want to use you to bless them!!” He doesn’t want us to wish away these uncomfortable seasons so that we can move on because he has things for us to do in these exile times. Will you allow the Lord to speak to your heart if you are in a season of your life that you keep wishing would just be over? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to encourage you to see the things that He has for you to accomplish in this moment and allow His supernatural work begin in you? He doesn’t want you to just “get through it” but to “thrive in it” and let all around you see that your God is great and has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you; to give you a future and a hope”. Do you think it is a coincidence that this scripture (Jer. 29:11) comes so closely after this command to thrive? I certainly don’t!