10 The Lord proclaims: When Babylon’s seventy years are up, I will come and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. 12 When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. 13 When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me. 14 I will be present for you, declares the Lord, and I will end your captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have scattered you, and I will bring you home after your long exile, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:10-14, CEB
How can you believe in God at a time like this?
We return to these verses often. That’s because they’re important, and because there’s a lot to be sorted out. God’s promise in verse 11 gets a lot of attention, but we often miss the dynamic there. God’s promise in verse 11 does not make things instantly easy. In fact, God is explicitly saying that things are going to be hard for a long time. But, he says, I will not leave you. When you pray, he’ll listen. When you search, you’ll find. I will be present for you.
Throughout the Bible God also seems to be in and around people who are going through hard times. He seems to have a special affinity for those who are down on their luck. This is particularly good news for those who are wrestling with the question: How can you believe in God at a time like this? It’s good news because we’re more likely to find him in the space where we’re asking that question than just about anywhere else.