The people of Israel had been exiled to Babylon and were now stuck. God had left them after many years of disobedience. Were they to be slaves yet again as their ancestors had been? Was this the way things would end for them? In a letter to the exiles God's prophet Jeremiah delivered a message. "Do not try to go back home because I (God) have a plan. People around you will try to tell you otherwise. They will say that they have been shown by Me how you must leave this situation but they are liars. I have put you here and this is what I say to you now. Work in your situation and settle down. Build houses, have children and do not be dismayed. Prosper in Babylon and when your time is over I will bring you back to the place, to the place where you belong." (Jeremiah 29:5-10)
God had brought the Israelites into a bad situation and even those who had been good and loyal to him were made to suffer. If you are going through a rough time understand that it might not be a punishment.
While reading the letter many must have said are you serious God? You want us to find some kind of joy in our pain? You want us to go on as if we are not suffering? God in his wisdom and obvious great writing skills said in verse 11: "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." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) You see sometimes in life we just need to hold our tongues and keep reading because with God there is ALWAYS more. The story ends many years later and the Jewish children born in exile make it home.
Fast forward to circa 57 years after Jesus' death and we find our jail-bird apostle Paul writing a letter to the Roman Christians. In his final letter we find Paul summarizing what it means to be a Christian and while he says many things in Romans 8 this part jumps out at me. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV) Paul did not say that we think that God is working for our good. He did not say that God works for us in some things. We KNOW that God will work in EVERYTHING under the sun for our good. Even when we cannot see it because God is not a human, his ways are not our ways and thoughts not ours. We should not try to understand them.
Today you might be going through some rough times. Your family situation may not be going right or God's plan for your life seems like a complete mystery. Maybe your career just took an unexpected turn and all you want to do is cry out to God and ask him why he has chosen to exile you. I want you to remember that during that exile prophecy was revealed to Daniel, the three Hebrew boys proved to a nation that a god king is a mere mortal and that our God walks through fire. The exile saved an entire race from extinction because in selflessness the most beautiful queen risked her life saying "if I perish, I perish." You do not know what God is writing in the story of your life but you must trust that is all for your good.