Jeremiah 29:7 – Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. (NIV)
In August 2000, we left Nova Scotia and moved back to Sri Lanka with our two boys. We had lived in Sri Lanka before for a couple of years until 1997. Not for want of trying, it was hard for us to explain to our friends and family that we were returning to Sri Lanka. Since 1983, Sri Lanka has been in the throes of a horrible civil war that has claimed over 67,000 lives. Every so often, suicide bombers from the rebel side infiltrate the capital, Colombo, and explode themselves. Recently, the cousin of our house-help, an innocent bystander, died in such an explosion. Occasionally, there have been running gun battles in the streets of the city. A few candidates died in the run-up to the Parliamentary Election on October 10. Yet it is to this city and country that the Lord has called us to return. I work at a secular job, and we attend a local church where we fellowship, teach, do Sunday School, AWANA, and other activities. We live our lives mostly with our neighbours and friends, many of whom are not Christians. We do our best to be encouragers, and to find God's encouragement from others. This is God's calling for us at this time.
When God spoke through the prophet to the children of Israel in Babylon, He instructed them to go on with their lives and to pray for the nation where they lived, even though Babylon was unbelieving and enslaved them. Life cannot grind to a halt during troubled times and in troubled places. When things are unpleasant or distressing, we must pray, adjust, try to help as best as we can, and follow the Lord's movement. We may find it hard to pray for the place and time we live in, and especially for those we think are responsible for the prevailing conditions. Yet it is in such places, at such times, and for such people, that prayers are most needed. As the apostle Paul writes:
1 Timothy 2:1-3 – I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour. (NIV)
When God puts us in places that are free of outward trouble (such as Nova Scotia), we should also give thanks for that outward peace. And we should pray that, while living in peaceful places, we and others do not succumb to complacency, nominalism, and the type of contentment that makes people forget and turn away from God.
Prayer: Lord God, help us to see you in everything we do, in every place you have put us, in every minute of life you give us. Help us to pray for the places you have put us in: that they may prosper in your Name, and that all may find blessing in their prosperity. Amen.