When you have no drive, motivation, and focus to press on in life, giving up seems like the only alternative left in a difficult place. We often think that troubling events, which cause disruption or slows progress is a sign to quit dreaming about the future and to stop developing amid unpleasant circumstances. Besides, if difficulty arises from our mistakes, we must learn from them, grow and not give up.
In Jeremiah 29: 1-11, we find a remnant of God’s people exiled from Jerusalem and living in Babylon under King Nebuchandnezzar’s rule. These Babylon captives found themselves in a difficult place and did not see any way out of their captivity or how they would return to their homeland in Jerusalem. The people in Jeremiah chapter 29 brought about their captivity by disobeying Jeremiah’s word from the Lord to change their ways. So, God promised them seventy years of captivity. Perhaps, in their view, living as exiles looked hopeless. But instead of progressing and prospering in a delayed place, they became tired and focused solely on the difficulty of captivity and neglected other important concerns of day-to-day living. They wanted captivity to end immediately, but God had a different plan for them in a delayed place (Verses 4-8).
The prophet Jeremiah wrote a persuasive, life-changing letter to the Babylonian captives to rouse them out of their stupor. His letter refocused their thinking and motivated them to productivity in a delayed place. Jeremiah’s letter proves the pen is mightier than the sword. In captivity, the exiles needed to understand that delay and postponement is temporary, but the continued pursuit of progress and prosperity is necessary. While in captivity, Jeremiah directed them to get with the business of living despite the difficulty. That being the case, he told them to build houses, plant gardens and eat the fruit, marry and have children, give their children in marriage so they can birth children that they may increase and not diminish in any way.
What amazes me about this event is that despite the disaster they brought on themselves, God did not allow them to languish in mediocrity but gave them a plan of action to progress and prosper in captivity. They were to live life with expectation knowing that God’s plan stated, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”(Jeremiah 29:11). Seventy years is temporary, but what you do with that time is important. For a certainty, we must push ahead with hope, faith and expectation knowing that life’s circumstances do not come to stay but will pass as we press forward in difficult times. The delayed place is not the time to shrink back into insignificance and lifelessness. It is a time for exponential growth.
So do not think failure means an end to expectation. For example, perhaps you can identify with the plight of God’s people. Perhaps you have endured years of captivity as a prison inmate because of a criminal incident or an act of disobedience that landed you in a delayed place. But if you take heed to God’s message of empowerment that a future and a hope exist, then act now by preparing for freedom. Don’t sit back and waste time wallowing in frustration about life’s complications, but throw your energy into getting educated, improving, changing and following God’s plan for success. Prepare to live life to the fullest regardless of the past. Never allow captivity to overwhelm you and snuff out progress and prosperity in the difficult place. Don’t say I’m trying because trying is failing with honor.
Prosperity and progress in a difficult place does not does always apply to physical imprisonment. However, there are many individuals not physically confined in a cell but are emotionally confined by divorce, past painful experiences and bad decisions. But remember, better days are in front of you as you move forward and the problems in a delayed place will eventually fade into the non-existence. Potential, desire, passion, ability and fulfillment will not remain in the delayed place forever. Sometimes the purposes of God are delayed but never denied and that you can bank on.
Many years ago, I found myself in such an uneasy and unsettling place financially and emotionally. Years of bad financial decisions imprisoned me in thousands of dollars worth of debt to include divorce and bankruptcy. I felt my life was ruined. Consequently, I became a servant to the lender. In other words, as a borrower, debt held me captive, destroyed my good name and prevented me from gaining credit for years. Did I act like the captives in Babylon? Did I feel like an exile and wish I had made better financial decisions? Did I want the fifteen years of financial captivity to end soon? The answer is yes! When we make bad mistakes, we always call on God to deliver us speedily and that can happen. However, in my delayed place, which I found difficult, I had no choice but to learn how to prosper and progress toward financial and emotional recovery with God’s help and common sense. I did what I needed to do until I finally restored my credit. And I did what Jeremiah told the captives to do. I remarried, bought a house, and fathered more children. Financial struggles gave me a new appreciation into the wisdom of Hosea 4:6, which states, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.”A lack of knowledge about money and credit cards early in my life locked me in a financial prison to creditors. And though financial challenges still exist, I continue to progress and fight in my delayed place. If when you’re disappointed about life, take action to dis the disappointment and know that you will make the appointment with destiny if you don’t quit. Even when you are drowning in debt and life circumstances beat-up on you, keep progressing until change comes.
Always remember to take advantage of the delayed places in life knowing the promise of a better future and a hope will come to pass. Just as God promised the exiles in Babylon a joyous return to Jerusalem, we can rest with assurance that God’s plan for our lives will come to fruition. To those who are in an exiled place, let this article serve as a letter of instruction to do all you can to prosper and progress despite the delayed place. And soon what looks impossible will become a reality.