Restored Fortunes

Phil Christman

Read: Jeremiah 29:1-14

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. (v. 5)

Anxiety is linked to the future in a doomed attempt to control what will happen by trying to outthink time itself. That means it’s also bound up with where we think we are in the story of our lives, and of creation.

For any young person who follows the news, it is easy to feel that we are late in the story. As a child in the 1980s, I feared nuclear war; today, the college students I teach fear climate catastrophe. Disasters and rising global temperatures, refugees drowning, statistical models predicting doom—no happy ending in sight anywhere. And within our own hearts we can see that our spiritual growth seems little more than a tiny island in a sea of inner corruption.

When Jeremiah’s letter from Jerusalem arrived in Babylon, his exiled recipients felt they too were living at the end of a story. The prophet’s words shocked them, telling them to live as though they weren’t refugees. Build houses? Have your kids marry and start families, here? He told them, of all things, to plant a garden—as though they had many years to wait for the fruit of the earth to grow on its own. Gardeners know how futile anxiety is. The seed doesn’t sprout for a long, long time, till one day, with no help from our worries, it sprouts. God only bids us gather and celebrate when the new growth finally appears. —Phil Christman

As you pray, thank God for his faithfulness, and choose to trust him with your future.