Do you feel exiled?
Let me put this in terms a little more relatable…
Do you feel displaced?
Do you feel cast out?
Do you feel ostracized or rejected?
There are often times in our lives that we feel all of these things. We look at our surroundings and wonder how we got there or why we are here. In one moment, we feel as though life is good and then the next moment we’re swirling around in a tornado of life just waiting to see where we land. Once we land, the things in life that were once familiar are no longer recognizable. We feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz battling the Wicked Witch of the West yet without any of the weapons we were once accustomed to. We feel lost with no direction.
This feeling of displacement can come from a multitude of things…a job loss, a marital conflict or failure, children who have lost their way in life or simply a move from our familiar home or town. Placed within this exile we can experience anxiety, depression, and hopelessness.
In the book of Jeremiah, there is a story of tremendous upset and exile. Destruction came to the city of Jerusalem in the land of Judah. The people were confused and could not differentiate between what was real and what was untruth. They were manipulated and deceived by false prophets therefore succumbing to their leadership and deception. If God’s people were going to survive, an exile needed to happen. God had to remove them from their current situation to supply healing and comfort. But they could not see God’s protection. They were consumed with the reality of their exile and not the hope of their safety.
This describes me…how about you?
I get so consumed with my exile; my obstacles, my heartache, my loneliness, my disconnection that I miss the safety that God is providing. What if He placed me exactly where He wanted me because there is a greater picture being painted?
Look at Jeremiah 29:7…
Take that specific statement from God to the Israelites and apply it to you!
Seek peace…calm, quiet, serenity, stability!
Seek prosperity…wholeness, means, worth, wellness!
Seek these things WITHIN the exile in which you have been carried!
But instead of us seeking these things, we thrash around like a fish out of water. As we thrash, this peace and prosperity get further and further from our focus.
I often get so focused on simple survival when God wants me thriving within my exile. I can thrive on finding Him amid the exile. I can thrive by fully trusting Him and the promises He gives. I can take this time to pause and focus on one or two scriptures He wants to use during this time. I can thrive by looking for the prosperity and provision He has given. Count my blessings…name them one by one!
So, where did God place these Israelites in this exile? He placed them in the land of Babylon.
Let’s talk Babylon. This was one of the richest cities of its time. Wealth ran deep with not only the king enjoying wealth but also the citizens. I see this as God taking me from the state of Illinois and placing me in the paradise of Hawaii.
The instruction God gave them was to prosper within this exile. Eat from their produce, learn from their craftsman, drink from their wells. Everything they needed or wanted was placed in this exile. So, peace and prosperity were all within arm’s length to be enjoyed.
God has placed each and everyone of us in exile at some point in our lives. When our lives get turned upside down from some outside source, what we choose to do within this exile is up to us. Do we seek the peace He is offering? Do we claim the prosperity He wants to give? Or do we simply survive the exile missing life lessons to help us on the next exile?
I am currently in an exile of sorts. I have found myself thrashing around looking for the next thing to give me fulfillment. But God’s voice is stronger than the desire for fulfillment. God is teaching me these very things…peace and prosperity while within the exile. He is calming my heart to trust Him…trust Him with my purpose and trust Him in my quiet.
How do we seek His peace and prosperity?
I realize all of us do this differently, but here are three suggestions.
First, we need to stop! We need to stop in all the chaos and get quiet. Find your place of peace. That could be your back porch or your bathtub. It could mean a drive to a park or a walk in the woods. Whatever it is, stop and get quiet before God.
Second, we need to listen. Listen to what God is wanting to say. Open His word to hear His voice. Read a Psalm or a Proverb. God is wanting to speak but only if we want to listen.
Third, look around. Look around at your surroundings and see how God has provided. Pay attention to the sounds of nature as He is providing peace in His creation. Look around for those who you feel safe with. Thank God for placing them in your life. When you taste your food, thank God for providing that food.
The more that we act on these things…stop, listen and look…the more we will feel His peace and the more we will recognize His provision.
Happy exile girls!
Written by Melody Westbrook. Melody Westbrook is the founder of The Walk Ministries, a ministry designed to bring women together through God’s story. She was a pastor’s wife for 35 years and has authored the book The Walk Back to Eden (still waiting publication). She is a communicator who loves to tell God’s story written within each of us while using her personal experience of a broken marriage and childhood survivor of abuse to communicate God’s redemption story. She loves teaching real women real stories of real life from God’s word. You can find her at http://facebook.com/thewalk.edw/