“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord.
‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s a pretty popular phrase that’s been around since the early 1900’s. It’s so well known that most of us are able to hear it and immediately feel the relief that it’s designed to inspire in us. There is an end to this current struggle; it’s within sight.
But what about the minutes, hours, days, months or years there may be left of the tunnel before you reach that light? What if the specific struggle you are in is only relieved when you arrive at your first day of Heaven? What’s the best way to deal with a long tunnel – is it possible to find joy in the tunnel time that comes BEFORE the exit?
What does that look like?
In Jeremiah, chapter 29, the problems of God’s people have finally come to a head: Babylon invades with God’s blessing and takes God’s people into captivity. Jeremiah has been warning the people that this was coming for awhile; He even told the people how to respond to it once it happened: Go into captivity without putting up a fight.
But God didn’t leave them without encouragement, even though they were serving out the consequences of some pretty serious sins. He offered them a light at the end of the tunnel AND a life IN the tunnel.
4 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
8 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, 9 because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.
10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
God offers an AWESOME two-part solution to this tunnel time.
- Use the time to grow. He uses words and phrases like grow, plant, eat, marry, have children, have many grandchildren, PRAY! He tells them to work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Beautify and love the tunnel you are in; don’t just sit and wait for the light to get here; BE the light even in this darkness.
- Trust His plan. God allowed Jonah to be in the belly of a big fish for three days. God allowed his only son to be dead for three days. And God would allow this time of captivity to go on for 70 years. All these may seem bizarre at first glance to an untrained eye, but God has a plan. His plans are for good and not disaster; he will give us a future and a hope. Pray and look for him – trust that this tunnel is the BEST place to be right now because he is there with you.
In short: Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And, until it arrives, BE it.
Dear Lord, you are our light at the end of every tunnel. You are the hope of the world and without you we would be lost every day. Please help us to embrace whatever tunnel we find ourselves in from time to time and fill us with your light so that we can live out your calling as your hands and feet in and out of the tunnel. Amen.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/48556423@N00/5438645358″></a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>