I’m dealing with some despair right now. Despair that I don’t have work, haven’t had work for a year and a half and cannot seem to find any, don’t belong to a community of people where I can live out my call to preach and teach, and that things are not happening with my book as fast as I would like. (Fame? Fortune? Merely being noticed?)
And so I’m reminded of God’s words to Jeremiah, words Jeremiah is commanded to speak to the exile of Judah living along the banks of the Tigris not far from Babylon.
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV)
I trust. I have no choice. “Do not let your despair have the last word,” something I told my daughter Michaela a couple of years ago. And I mean it. Because this is what God is telling the exiles. And the Lord my God is not lying. People are reading my book. I have been thanked by several readers who said they were grateful to know they were not alone. This is no small thing.
In fact, to be honest, it’s everything I’ve ever really wanted to accomplish.
Still, I wish I knew when my exile was over, when my “seventy years” is done. I realize there are no guarantees from God save for eternal life with Jesus. I am not promised wealth, or position, or success, or even comfort. But it’s hard not to look at all those around me who seem to have everything I do not have right now — work, homes of their own — or those I went to seminary with who are now in calls where they preach and teach and not feel some bitterness or resentment.
I hope. I trust. I am trying hard not to let despair have the final word. I have no evidence right now anything will change, and that makes it really difficult. But I trust. I have no choice. There is nothing else to do.