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Exile. A difficult word that evokes feelings of loneliness, despair, and disorientation. For the Israelites in Babylon, exile was their devastating reality. Yet God did not abandon them in their distress. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God spoke words of hard truth and audacious hope, charting a course for his people to not just survive but thrive in exile.

Jeremiah urged the Israelites to walk the narrow way between naive optimism and utter despair. He challenged them to invest in Babylon’s welfare rather than cursing their oppressors. And above all, he called them to seek God with their whole hearts, not as an afterthought but as their supreme priority.

Jeremiah’s message to the exiles foreshadows timeless wisdom for all who feel estranged from home. His words compel us to acknowledge the truth, nurture hope, love enemies, and draw near to God alone as our refuge and strength.

  1. Good friends do not minimize present difficulties. The Israelites were tempted to minimize their exile in Babylon by saying it would only last two years. But Jeremiah said it would last 70 years. Minimizing is a temptation to make things seem not as bad.
  2. Good friends do not despair in present circumstances. While we should acknowledge difficulties, we should not give in to hopelessness. God has a plan that will unfold in His timing, not ours.
  3. Good friends invest in comprehensive well-being. Jeremiah tells the Israelites to seek the welfare of Babylon, their exile city, because in its well-being they will find their own well-being. Sin and suffering are complex, so we need to address societal issues holistically.
  4. Good friends seek after God with their whole heart. Our relational connection to God transforms us to be the friends our communities need. We often seek God halfheartedly while prioritizing other things. But we need to make God our top priority.

Exile forces a decision. Will we dwell on despair or rediscover hope? The Israelites longed for home, yet Jeremiah urged them to plant gardens and seek the welfare of Babylon. His call echoes through the centuries, inviting us to pour out love wherever we are planted. Seeking God with our whole hearts unleashes His transformative power, making us agents of flourishing in even the most hostile places. May Jeremiah’s bold words pierce our ears today.

Our true home lies not in any earthly country but in the everlasting arms of our King. Only when God reigns supreme in our hearts can we live as friends our broken world desperately needs. The time is now to fix our eyes above, to seek God’s kingdom, and to be the good news. Our exile is but for a moment—our hope in Christ is forever.



Jeremiah 29:10-13

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