Connections 10.09.2022: Practical Steps in Tough Times

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14

This passage from Jeremiah contains some of the most quoted and most hopeful verses in the Bible. If you ever feel discouraged about where you are in life, just read Jeremiah 29:11-14a: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me….”

These are the most familiar verses, but the rest of the passage offers practical steps for where we are in a given moment in time. I remember a period in my life that felt utterly stagnant and hopeless. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a way out of my situation. I felt stuck, and I didn’t know what to do next. I was in my own sort of exile.

In this passage, Jeremiah gives the people of God a direct message from the Lord. They are exiled, far from their homes. They feel disconnected from God. They are faced with new customs and foods. But here’s what God tells them to do while they’re here feeling stuck:

• Make homes for yourselves (v. 5a).
• Grow your own food and enjoy it (v. 5b).
• Get married and have kids (v. 6.)
• Care about the place where you are now, and pray for it (v. 7).
• Listen to me, not to deceitful people who claim to speak for me (vv. 8-9).

These practical steps applied to my situation just like they applied for God’s people centuries ago. When I was going through that tough time, I had some choices to make. I could fall into depression, stop caring, and lose my will to survive. Or I could do what God says here. That’s what I decided to do, and it took the focus off myself and made me more aware of God’s work around me.

Finding the positive no matter where you are and regardless of what is happening to you can help you see God at work. It can help you find encouragement when your situation seems hopeless. It can rekindle hope for a better day. In any location or situation, God insists, “I will let you find me” (v. 14). Let’s seek God with this assurance in every circumstance!


• When have you felt like an exile because of certain experiences or situations?
• What did you do during this time, and was it helpful or harmful?
• How do you think it felt to be one of God’s people exiled to Babylon?
• How might God’s practical steps have helped the people as they tried to survive their exile? How could these steps—or similar steps that involve doing what you can where you are—help you in your difficult situation?
• What does it mean to you that God knows the plans for your life, “to give you a future with hope”?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


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