Thursday, September 8, 2011

Favor in an Unfavorable Place

Jeremiah 42:6

Whether it is favorable or unfavorable; we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.

One of the hardest things to do is to stay someplace where the conditions are no longer favorable. For some, it may be a community that seems to have taken a turn for the worst and God is calling us to that community to stabilize it through gentrification. For others it may be a marriage that is rocky but God is calling you to stay in it because there’s still a chance for reconciliation. Maybe it’s a job that is not an ideal job but it pays the bills. Can you stay put in an unfavorable place and depend on God’s favor to get you through?

The Israelites were nothing but a remnant of a people left after the Babylonian exile. They went back to a destroyed city and wanted to know from God what they should do. So they sent Jeremiah the prophet to inquire of the Lord for them under false pretenses. On the surface it looked like they really wanted to know God’s will but underneath they already had their minds made up to go settle in Egypt. They were hoping that they could get the Prophet to cosign on their vision for convenience. They even dressed up their request by saying they would do whatever God said do, whether it was favorable or unfavorable.

Jeremiah told them to stay in an unfavorable place. Verse ten, “If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you for I am grieved over the disaster I have afflicted on you.”

Instead of listening to Jeremiah they called him a liar and went back to Egypt anyway. As a result of them settling for and in Egypt, more of them died because they refused to stay in an unfavorable place in spite of God’s promised favor.

Why do we settle for Egypt over where God asks us to stay?

1. Where you are takes work, Egypt is already established. The Israelites would have to rebuild their desolate cities, Egypt already had furnished homes. It’s so much easier to go somewhere that appears to already be ready to move in but the question is, “Does God want you to be there?” I’d rather have to work on something that needs building then to go against God’s will and occupy something I was never supposed to settle for.

2. You are glamorizing the past but forgetting you were a slave there. The Israelites used to be slaves in Egypt but were trying to go back as citizens. We should never try to settle for a place that used to have us in bondage.

3. You forget that the idols you worshipped got you in this mess. What’s the use to going back to the things that couldn’t deliver you in the first place?

4. You associate past behavior with past success but overlook present misery. When some people find themselves in unfavorable places they start reminiscing about the ‘good ole days’ when they had money or were happier. The only problem is they remove the connection that their association with that behavior led them to their present consequence. Ex; you might have sold drugs a decade ago and now you are struggling financially. What you don’t see is that God spared your life and now you are struggling, but the struggle is part of your process toward redemption.
You can’t go forward going backwards, no matter how unfavorable our conditions appear. We will go through seasons where the enemy has temporary authority over us because of our disobedience but if we turn back to God and endure hardships as a good soldier and do the work he asks us to do we will find favor in unfavorable conditions.

Dear God

Thank you for giving us favor in unfavorable places. Give us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.

In Jesus name,

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