“Even in Exile” – Thoughts on God’s Faithfulness 

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“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

Seasons change.

We can see it in nature. The cycle of seasons looks different in various parts of the world. While it is summer in Los Angeles, it is winter in Sydney (imagine celebrating Christmas during summer?)

Just like there are different seasons in nature, our lives go through different seasons as well. These new seasons can be marked by a new job or a new relationship. They can also be marked by the loss of a job or the end of a relationship. Nonetheless, we all go through these changes.

Change can also be overwhelming. It can cause feelings of insufficiency or fear. How then do we face change?

When we are going through a change of seasons the key is to stay planted in God’s love and faithfulness.

Jeremiah spoke of such stance. Jeremiah knew that the people of Israel were about to face one of the biggest changes in their history, exile and captivity. His call to the people of Israel was to trust God. In trusting God, the people of Israel would be able to withstand the coming season.

You know you are planted when change comes and you choose to trust God. You can be in exile or you can be in the promised land but your trust in God remains.

Eventually, God delivered Israel from exile. If you recall, God had once delivered Israel from the oppression of Egypt and now God had delivered Israel from the oppression of Babylon. God, once again demonstrated his love and faithfulness toward Israel.

Rest assured that the God that has been faithful to you, will continue to be faithful. He delivered you once from Egypt, He will surely deliver you again from Babylon. God will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. That is a promise.

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The Dangerous Business of Busyness

I noticed something about myself and that is that I can be quite awkward. Once, someone simply said hello to me and I responded by saying, “I am good, how are you?” If you have not noticed, the person did not even ask me how I was doing. Awkward huh?

A second time, I was at a church gathering and somebody asked how I was doing and I answered, “Hey, I am good!” And we kept talking for like 2-3 more minutes and this person said I have to go and for some reason I said, “Okay, good morning!” I think I had not had my morning coffee yet!

Anyway, I noticed something else in my salutations and that is that most often than not, whenever I ask someone how they have been or they ask me, the response I get is “busy”. So the conversation goes something like this:

Me: Hey, How have you been?

Person: Good! I have been busy!

Me: Oh! Awesome, busy is always good.

One day I thought to myself, “Is it always good to be busy?” Why Not!? Busyness means we are getting it done and we are putting in work. I mean we live in a culture were people deeply value being busy. People are working 60 hours a week, 3 different jobs, and no days off. Its crazy but its become a mantra! NO DAYS OFF! NO DAYS OFF!

Now a problem can arise from such busyness. We can get so caught up in the work that we forget and neglect ourselves. What we end up neglecting is our soul. It may not happen intentionally, but it happens. We get so caught up in our work and in the midst of it we lose grip of who we are. We let go of who we are and we grab a hold of our jobs, our reputations, our cars, our money, our activity, our possessions and make those the sources of our identity and security. Our value then is determined by what we do and what we have—from doing and having, rather than just being.

The truth is that there is always going to be a better job, a better car, a better house, or a better position. What we have and who we are will never be enough if our identity is drawn from those things. We will continue to work and work and work but we will never be satisfied. We will never be content because there is always something better to obtain. So whats the solution?

We will continue to work and work and work but we will never be satisfied.

The key then is to make God the source of our identity and value. The greatest example of someone who understood the concept of being before doing and letting their identity come from God was Jesus. In the following text we get a clear picture:

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11 NIV

Before Jesus began his public ministry and fulfilled the purpose for which He came, Jesus experienced the deep love and pleasure of the Father towards Him. Jesus did not have to do ANYTHING for God to love Him. It is from that foundation of love and pleasure that Jesus built His ministry and life on.

From that place of the love and acceptance, Jesus lived out the rest of His life and navigated the testing in the wilderness (Mark 1:12-13), loved and served the worst of sinners (Mark 2:13-17), endured rejection (Mark 6), ushered in the kingdom and power of God (Mark 8), and ultimately endured the cross (Mark 15).

Jesus did not draw His identity from people’s opinions or from the circumstances in His life. Jesus’ identity flowed out of the delight and pleasure of the Father towards Him. Jesus did not have to do anything to be loved by the Father.

Like Jesus, you do not have to do anything to attain value. You do not have to do anything to be loved by God. You are valuable and loved simply for being God’s creation—for being human. Work is not bad, being busy is not bad, even owning things is not bad! It gets bad whenever our identity and value is derived from the things we have and the things we do.

You do not have to do anything to be loved by God.

There is always going to be a better job, a better car, a better house, or a better position but God never changes and your value does not either. Our value and identity is ultimately found and secured in Him. My prayer is that you may experience and be aware of God’s delight and love towards you and live from that place of passionate love and that your value and identity would be found in the never-changing character of God.

So just stop, take a moment, and turn your attention towards Him. You are God’s child, in whom He delights and in whom He is well pleased.