Making Your Exiles Great

Wayne Cordeiro

To those carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (Jeremiah 29:8-9)
Ever been in a season of exile? Oh, it may not be in a far away Babylon, but what about in your marriage? What about at work? Ministry? It might not be something that will last forever, but it will for a time: several weeks stretch into several months, and months can expand into years. It's a season of waiting ... where you are forced to settle for a position that you didn't sign up for. It might be in a role you were asked to fill, that doesn't fill you! Or a job description that isn't flattering and seems beneath your capabilities.

And you feel trapped.

Will you let everyone subtly know just how disenchanted you are? Will you help everyone else around into the wading-pool of despair that you are in? Oh, it may not be in public ads, but it will be in private comments, asides and attitudes. You can't control the cards that are dealt to you, but you can control how you play them. We can play your cards with a bad attitude, moaning, grumbling, and the only time we celebrate is at pity parties with others in the same pool.
Christians are great at that. In times of exile, we want the world know. But here, God challenges our hearts and commands us to make our exiles great. Why? Much of who we are will be fashioned during times of exile.
I remember my upbringing under a Master Sergeant father who ran our family like the army. There were seasons of great struggle and pain, a broken marriage, and a split family. I remember he many nights I cried myself to sleep wishing I would not get up in the morning.

But would I have changed anything of my past? As I look back, I have come to the conclusion that I would not change a thing... even the seasons of hurt when our family was split in two. Through it, God gave me a compassion for broken families. God developed disciplines, a tough work ethic, a resilience, and a strong mind that God would use later in ministry and evangelism, pioneering churches and helping hurting leaders.

No, I wouldn't change a thing in my upbringing.

As Israel goes into the Babylonian exile, God sends them a letter through Jeremiah and tells them to make their exile great, because ... "I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans not for your calamity, but for your welfare (your shalom) that you might have a future and a hope."

We will determine the shape of our own futures by how we fare in our exile times. It will be our own actions and attitudes that will either hammer out, or beat down the potential of our tomorrows.
Dear Father,

How important it is for us to make our exiles great! We are prone to complain and let people know how miserable we are, how bad our boss is, or how much we are suffering in roles that don't fill us. Even though we think we are suffering for Jesus, the bottom line is still that it is all about us.

Please open my eyes to see clearly and develop a depth in my spirit to be wise with Your insight. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Devotions for August 22

Jeremiah 28,29,30
1 John 3

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