Are you familiar with Jeremiah 29:11?  It is a verse quoted often as encouragement when someone is going through a difficult time. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  It’s pretty awesome to know the Lord has plans for us, even when we don’t have a plan for ourselves or when our plan doesn’t seem to be working out the way we expected.
Have you ever looked closely at the context of that verse?  God had plans for the Israelites, but being exiles was part of the plan. How can that be?  The Israelites didn’t want to be exiles.  They wanted to return to their homeland.  However, the Lord says in Jeremiah 28:14 and 29:20 that He sent Israel into Babylon as exiles.  God’s thoughts and plans clearly aren’t like ours [Isaiah 55:8].  Who among us would chose exile over freedom.  We have to trust our heavenly Father knows best.  Sometimes He has to remove us from our comfort zones to do a work in our lives. We look at our situation and see it as punishment or horrible, but He sees it as the perfect environment to do some of His best work.
Jeremiah 29:5-7 encourages the Israelites to live life while they’re in Babylon and move forward, building homes, starting families, growing crops… in other words, make the best of the situation and allow the Lord to work.  We see a similar thing happen in Joseph’s life when He was sold to some travelers, sold into slavery and then banished to prison for a crime he didn’t commit [Genesis 37:28, 36, Genesis 39:20].  In the end, the Lord returned the Israelites to Jerusalem and Joseph was raised up to the second highest position in the land.
I see this concept playing out in the life of a young trafficking victim.  She tried to escape the lifestyle only to be sucked back into it.  Like a ping pong match, she’d get away from her pimp and go into treatment then leave treatment before she had time to unpack, heading back to her pimp.  Even though the treatment centers were best for her, she saw them as a form of punishment, almost like a prison cell. It was gut wrenching to watch. Finally, she hit rock bottom. She realized her lifestyle was the prison and knew if she didn’t get out, she would continue to be used until she was used up, nothing left.  Last night as I was preparing to go to bed my phone rang.  It was her.  She was calling me from a treatment center she chose to go to on her own. She was beside herself excited and had to share the good news.  She had just applied to college.  The staff at the treatment center helped her and next she was going to start applying for grants and scholarships to cover the costs.  She was no longer running from someone but she was running towards something. She was choosing to build, plant, and thrive where the Lord had her. I know she has a long way to go, but I know she has a faithful God who has great plans for her life, plans that won’t bring harm to her, plans to give her a future, a future she is so excited about now.  She just needed to be removed, sent into exile so to speak, in order to see it for herself.
Do you feel like you’re living in exile right now? Have you found yourself in a place you wouldn’t have chosen in a million years?  Take a moment to ask the Lord if you’re where you are out of your doing or if He has taken you there for a purpose.  He is a good Daddy.  Whether you’ve gotten yourself into the situation or He’s taken you there, you can trust Him to make it into something good [Romans 8:28].  Work with Him, not against Him. The sooner you do, the sooner you will start making progress.
Join me at www.resolutionhope.orgtoday at 5 p.m.for the next excerpt of Rescuing Hope.