An amazing aspect of our God is the fact that amid pillaging, villainy, even barbarous atrocities, He is still at work for the welfare of His chosen ones.  He is so completely “other,” so far beyond being completely discovered (Job 9:10, 36:26), our grasp upon Him is infinitesimal at best.  Surely, we cannot begin to think we have uncovered all there is to be discovered about Him.  How can we when He plainly tells us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9.)  Yes, that extends to those seasons when calamity is on every hand and things have spiraled out of our control.  Even in those desperate seasons, this amazing God we serve is working out His perfect plan in our lives.

Imagine finding yourself captured…some of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters can attest to the numbing fear accompanying such apprehension today…by an enemy so evil, so heartless, even God labels them as “cruel and merciless” (Jeremiah 6:23).  In the chaos and horror, you have watched family members slaughtered.  In shock, you have seen the mighty fall and the priests murdered.  Yet you, somehow, have been spared the swiftness of the sword.  Instead, you are humiliated, stripped, probably abused, and then led in chains out of the burning ruins of your city.  Goaded by the hard-faced soldiers, forced to abandon everything you have ever known, you begin a march toward an unknown destination.

Then, out of nowhere, someone has the nerve to say, “God’s at work in your life!”  “Something good is going to come out of this!”  The mild reaction would be, “Good!  God!  You gotta be kidding me!  Where is God in all the despair around me?”  Yet that is exactly what God said to the people who were going to be taken captive and exported to Babylon. 

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans.”  (Jeremiah 24:5)

Even in their pain, despair, and all that goes along with being taken as a captive in that era, God was at work for the betterment of the captives.  By the way, Daniel and his three famous buddies from the book bearing his name were in this group.  Amazingly, God can involve Himself in the middle of the worst day of your life and cause something good to come from the experience.  You may not feel that way today.  You may not feel that way for some time to come.  And no, even when you recognize the fact that God took your trip through Babylon and made it work for your good, you probably will not look back on the experience with joy and pleasure.  Yet today I declare to you, and I am not kidding, God works in the worst of our lives for our good!

Here are three steps to surviving your Babylon trip and coming out on top.  First, realize God is not pulling you down, He is planting you (Jeremiah 24:6).  He is not in the business of trashing His vineyard.  He is interested in planting and growth. 

Second, this is not designed to alienate you from Him.  He is just as real in Babylon as in Jerusalem.  He does not change whether you are in a powerful church service or a tension-racked courtroom. God was with Joseph when he revealed his dream to his parents.  He was equally at home with Joseph when the young man languished in prison (Genesis 39:21).  The only thing which changes when we are overwhelmed is the normal means of experiencing His presence.  Look around and keep looking…He’s there!

Third, while you may be in an extreme situation, God is working for your good by purging your life from negative influences.  Jehovah was specific about this.  The negative influences in the lives of His chosen ones were going to be removed.  Sometimes their removal was a rather unsavory accomplishment, but they were, nonetheless, removed from their influence over His selected servants (Jeremiah 24:9-10). 

The purpose for the trip through Babylon is singular.  God wants His people to know Him (Jeremiah 24:7).  His desire is for you and me to have such a heart for Him, such an overwhelming magnificent obsession over Him, nothing else matters.  I think that is what Jesus was driving at when He spoke of the necessity of singular focus (Luke 14:26).  Paul displayed the inner resolve of this type of heart when describing his losses and denouncing the disappearance of his life’s accomplishments (Philippians 3:8). As we sojourn through our personal Babylon, remember to look around and find Him.  He’s there, waiting to cultivate in us such effusive growth we will not recognize ourselves when we come out…and come out we will.  I kid you not!!!