Sometimes we have the unfortunate experience of being in an unpleasant condition longer than we expected. For example, we work in a job we don’t like and can’t wait to leave. Or, we live in a house or an apartment we can’t wait to move out of and into our dream home. Some of us even think, “when we get that new house or a better job, then things will start to get better.” Our prayer in these instances could even be ‘Lord take me out of this place, job, situation, etc’. A few years ago, my wife used to pray such a prayer when she worked for a very difficult boss who majored on making her life difficult at work. To my wife, there was nothing she could think of that warranted such behavior. Day after day, she prayed to be “set free” from this position—but nothing changed. Even the thought of work would cause her depression and anxiety. Some days she wondered, “Why show any effort? He’ll find a way to continue sabotaging my reputation.” Friend, in difficult times like this, lean in (and become sensitive) to the voice of God.
4 “So says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the captives whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5 ‘Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there and do not decrease [in number]. 7 Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace.’
In the Bible passage above, God told the exiles (captives of Babylon) to essentially change their thinking and thrive where they have been exiled. God even tells the people that after some time passes, they will no longer be captives, but will relocate back to their land. While this is God’s promise of a better future, His words to the captives were to “seek peace and well-being for the city” and “pray to the Lord on its behalf” in their present moment. He also tells them to build, live and plant in the land they will stay temporarily as exiles. Why would God say this? Probably because they were not doing this. Back to the illustration—My wife sensed instead of praying against her boss, she would pray for him and seek his well-being. She would go early in the morning before others arrived and lay her hand on his chair and speak blessings over the chair. She did this day after day. Things did not get better between her and her boss, but the owner of the company started to take notice of her and made small talk from time to time. One day, a senior level position became open and the owner decided to promote my wife to that role—three or four levels senior to her junior role! She was shocked! Even though she was treated unfairly, she decided to treat her boss fairly and to bless him.
How about you? Do you seek the well-being of your employer whom you don’t like? Do you seek to be excellent at your job and improve the company (or home) while you are there or are you looking for the opportunity to leave? If you are, consider the words God spoke to the exiles in Babylon: build, live, and plant. Or, in other words, find a way to thrive. My wife worked for that company for eight years and she was blessed tremendously for her efforts. In fact, her last payout before she moved to the U.S.A., was more money than her parents had grossed in 35 years of labor in that country. Dear reader, if you obey the Lord, He will do His part.
Prayer: Lord, let the work of my hands be a blessing to others. Teach me how to love others the way you want me to love them, even if they are difficult. Help me not to act on my impulses, but let your sweet Holy Spirit guide my thoughts and cause them to become agreeable to Your will. Amen.