Black Jellybeans (Prayer Devotional for the week of May 18, 2014)

It takes a lot of courage to play the kids’ game of “Open your mouth & close your eyes, and you will have a big surprise!” You could end up with a delicious caramel or a licorice jellybean. (Unless you actually like black jellybeans, in which case, more power to you. Just thinking about them makes me want to gag.) I’ve been on the receiving end of one too many yucky surprises, so I am reluctant to play the game anymore. The trust just isn’t there.

Isn’t that like life, though? Sometimes we go through phases that feel like we’ve been given one bite of bitter licorice after another, so we lose trust and decide that God must not have our best interests in mind, after all. Jeremiah 29:11 is a popular verse, which reminds us that God has a purpose and plan for us. However, if you read the verse in context with the rest of the chapter, it illustrates this notion of choices and tricks very well. The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah while the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon. God tells them straight up that they might as well make the most of their situation, since he intended to leave them there for 70 years because they had turned their backs on him and followed false prophets, instead.

Granted, I don’t think that God plays tricks on us for a good laugh, but I firmly believe that he often lets us experience the consequences for our own choices. It might sound like a silly analogy, but we can’t expect to hang out with people who love licorice, keep candy jars full of black jellybeans in our homes, frequent the candy store, and then have the gall to complain about the licorice.

Sometimes we go through unpleasant times simply because we didn’t bother to step off the path that took us there.

Hopefully any trials that you are experiencing are more along the lines of icky jellybeans than decades of exile, but regardless of what your “Babylon” circumstance looks like, heed the instructions of Jeremiah 29:7: “And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray for her, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.” Don’t wallow in your misery and feel sorry for yourself; strive to make it better, and honor God through your efforts.

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