Posted by: macahajo | June 21, 2014

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

I have heard many quote this passage, and I have looked upon it as a comfort and shelter as I have thought about going to Cameroon. But today, as I read this passage in my quiet time, I realized something. Jeremiah was not speaking this to the Israelites in their comfort and leisure. He spoke these words to those who had been taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. He told them to live in a foreign land; they were to look at Babylon as their home. He told them that for the next seventy years, they were going to be there, and after that, they would return to Israel. Prophets all around Jeremiah were saying the opposite. “The exiles will come back soon”, they declared. But it was all a lie.

What stood out to me today is that sometimes we quote this passage without considering the context. The Israelites were prisoners, sent into Captivity to serve a foreign land and king. I picture Daniel being forced to prophesy and worship King Nebuchadnezzar. I see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace. They were in places of great trial and turmoil, yet God had a plan for welfare and not evil, to give them a future and a hope. They were not at ease or leisure. Their hopes and dreams of returning to Jerusalem was not going to happen for seventy years. So God told them to live their lives – build, plant, marry, bear children. The focus is not on what lies ahead. The focus is on the here and now. Do what you are supposed to do, and God will take care of what lies ahead.

As we just passed one month here in Cameroon, I am realizing some things about life here. One, life is hard. Everything seems to take more energy and time than in the US. Simple trips to the store to get groceries turn into long, stressful trips through massive amounts of traffic that can take much of your day. Meal preparation takes longer because of the lack of conveniences enjoyed in America.

Two, life is different. We are foreigners and strangers here, and we see it every day. The simplest things that African children know and understand are new lessons to us; we are learning so much each day. Walking across the street or buying food in the little boutiques that dot our neighborhood can be scary ventures. The differences get so overwhelming that at times, I really want to just go back home….back to the comforts of a country, culture and society that we understand, accept and are comfortable with.

Yet, God has brought us here with plans to prosper us and give us a future and a hope. What was the prosperity for the exiles? It was God showing up in their lives. It was God saving the three from the fiery furnace. It was God shutting the mouths of the lions. It was God prophesying to Nebuchadnezzar and eventually saving him. That’s the prosperity we desire here. That in the midst of life in Cameroon, God would show up and show Himself. That in the midst of His people living their lives here, God would show Himself strong, faithful, loving, kind and holy. He is the name above all names and the only name by which all mankind can be saved.

We feel strengthened to face the cultural adjustments to Cameroon head on because we have confidence in Jesus and that His will and way is always the very best for our family.  Please pray for us to not lose courage or focus. We need your prayers during these first days of ministry here in Cameroon!

Blessings,
Mark

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Responses

  1. Hey Mark,
    Thank you for the post…we don’t know each other but our children were in Spotlight together. Cheryl and I read this blog continuously and want you guys to know that you all are in our prayers and will continue to be. Keep fighting the good fight and stay in the word. You guys are there for a reason and God doesn’t fail.

    Deuteronomy 31:8

    Godspeed,
    scott olson (better known as Sydney’s Dad)

    • Thanks for the kind words Scott. We appreciate your encouragement and prayers. Look forward to meeting you the next time we get to Spotlight!


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