Adjusting to a new normal can be difficult to navigate, even in the best of situations. Leaving home for the first time, getting married, having children, settling in to a new job, dealing with long-term disabilities, a divorce, loss or death – all of these can be the reality of a new normal. A pastor friend of mine experienced what he described as a new normal following a tragic car accident that changed everything in a moment! His life would never be the same. He was forced to adapt to what he called the new normal. Life is filled with unexpected twists that leave us wondering, “What do we do now?”
Whether it’s the result of our own choices or others, we can learn to adjust and thrive, not just survive, in the new normal. In fact, my pastor friend’s ministry grew exponentially, beyond the scope of his own imagination out of what seemed to be the worst of circumstances! Are you living in what seems like the twilight zone of navigating a new normal? The people of Israel could relate. As they sought to find their way, God sent them a prophet named Jeremiah. Many of the people had already been displaced. They were living in exile in a foreign land under a foreign government. Jeremiah writes a letter to them, from home in Jerusalem, and offers them wise counsel from God on how to live in the new normal. Listen to what he says in Jeremiah 29:3-7;10 (NLT)
This is what Jeremiah’s letter said: This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives He has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.
Then, Jeremiah tells them how long this will last.
This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”
Wow! Jeremiah offers them practical advice for necessary adjustments that they needed to make with hope and encouragement that God had not abandoned them. He was saying, “Don’t give up or give in to your circumstances. Trust God and keep on keeping on! God isn’t through with you yet!” Maybe that’s exactly what you need to hear today. Don’t give up! As long as you’re occupying space and taking in oxygen, God isn’t finished with you either! As a friend of mine says, “If you’re not dead, God’s not done!” I love that!
Now, Jeremiah offers these poor exiles the most encouraging words of all from God…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT)