Creative Captivity: Discovering Purpose in Troubling Times

“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” (Jer. 29:11).  These words were delivered by Jerimiah the “weeping prophet”, spoken at a time of great testing in the lives of God’s children. The prophet wept as he considered the waning faith of the people who once held firm to the promises of a faithful God. He wept as he witnessed the unraveling of a culture, the deterioration of families, and the lack of discernment of brothers and sisters. He wept as God’s people clambered to hear a word, any word, regardless of its origin as long as it followed what itching ears long for.  

How does a “weeping prophet” deliver a message of hope, especially in such a time of bitter challenge?  God’s people were sequestered in a place not of their choosing. They had known the promises of a promised land, fulfilled, then removed.  They also knew of a promise of restoration. Now they sit in frustration and fear as the current situation runs contrary to their expectations.   Jeremiah reminds them that God still has plans, and they certainly like the “prospering” part. The rest of the message is a bit more difficult. Jeremiah 29:4-14, gives the complete message.   

1. “Settle down”, v.5 and focus on family.  The greatest opportunities often evolve from the inconvenient and undesired.  Things that restrict us sometimes provide the setting for great growth. These times need to be received as moments provided by God.  And anything provided by God implies both plan and purpose from a great craftsman involved in our lives, His “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10).  I believe His greatest desire is for us to “take hold” of these moments. Let God lead you into family times that bring healing and hope.

2. “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city” v.7.  The demands on Government officials has never been greater.  Multiple decisions must be made daily that balance public health and financial stability as the demands of anxious constituents grow louder.  Prayer and cooperation that demonstrates love and concern project a message that will be more desired, making the appeal of the Gospel more likely embraced.

3. Stop listening to false prophets. They deliver flowery words designed to manipulate favor but do little to truly advance God’s plans.  They focus on flattering words stemming from “dreams you encourage them to have” v.8.  Be aware, “I have not sent them,” declares the LORD v. 9.  Listen to the words consistent with God’s character and greater plans.  The work he does now is to secure a more lasting future. His plans remain, “to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity (Jer. 29:12-14).

As we move forward in these difficult times let us not miss the opportunities to grow.  Let us prepare for what lies ahead. Let us be ready to meet the demands of a hungry world.  The word of God declares the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in end times. Out of the demands of dark times comes the radiance of His Church.  God currently is setting the stage, preparing both the declarer and receiver of His Word. Let us be ready as He brings us out of captivity on to the stage of what I believe will be His greatest work yet.  Let His “creative captivity” equip us for His perfect plan.