ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS
I know many of you still think that Jeremiah was a bullfrog, but let me set you straight about that; Jeremiah was a prophet of God. He was called by God to preach His word to Judah at the time of Jerusalem's fall to the Babylonians. At the beginning of his ministry Jeremiah received these instructions from God: "Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jer. 1:9-10). Uprooting and tearing down don't seem like positive acts. Destroying and overthrowing seem equally negative. To fix our attention on these four acts, however, is to totally miss the point. God's true purpose in calling Jeremiah was to build and to plant.
Endings and beginnings usually go hand in hand. In fact, beginnings are most often preceded by endings. Before a building is built, the land must be cleared. Before an omelet is made, the eggs must be cracked. Before the flowers can be planted, the ground must be broken up. New things often emerge through pain and fear. The birthing process is rarely easy and never painless.
It is possible that God's reasons and plans may not have been clear, even to Jeremiah. And in spite of Jeremiah’s warnings and teachings, the situation in the Southern kingdom got continually worse. Eventually, the kingdom was overthrown and the best and brightest were taken into exile. However, even in the midst of the people's calamity, God made this promise: "I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jer. 29:11). When we find ourselves in times of turmoil, we may be tempted to cast aside our faith in God. We must not because we can be sure of this; God's purposes are unchanged by our perceptions. He is planting and building. He may have started by uprooting and tearing down, but His promise to us is to prosper and not to harm.
It is the Lord who has brought us to this day. The situation in which we now find ourselves, whatever that may be, comes from His providential hand along with every other good and perfect gift. Even though we may not see the end of things, we can know for certain that His ultimate purpose is for our good, for the building of His Church, and for the establishment of His kingdom. Our job is to trust Him. Our job is to follow Him wherever He chooses to lead us.
We may wish to avoid the pain of uprooting and tearing down. It would be a far greater loss; however, to miss out on what God Himself is building. Endings are difficult, but beginnings are exciting. I don't know what lies ahead, but I know it's going to be good. God has promised both hope and a future!
Pastor Keith Andrews