What do you have to live for?

BY AL EARLEY

Columnist

What do you have to live for?  The answers would be diverse if we were to ask a crowd.  Some might say, “To see my basketball team win the NCAA tournament, to have all the chores done at the house, get a high school diploma, win a million dollars on a TV reality show.”  A lot of people would think finding happiness is the main point of life.  As you reflect on what you have to live for, consider what the prophet Jeremiah faced in his day.

During much of his career Jeremiah saw the power and threat of Babylon grow, and the corruption and sinfulness of the Jews weaken their country.  He prophesied that Babylon would crush Israel and became known as a prophet of doom.  On the eve of Babylon’s conquest of Jerusalem, Jeremiah became the prophet of hope, hope that after the misery of conquest and destruction, God would bring them home and rebuild his chosen people.

Jeremiah writes, “For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel’” (Jeremiah 31:7).

After the Babylonians finished with them, many Jews felt they had nothing to live for.  The Babylonians liked a diabolical dose of cruelty with their military conquests.  King Zedekiah was made to watch his family be killed, then his eyes were poked out so it would be the last thing he saw.  The Jews were marched around the empire, and foreigners put in their homeland, so that each region would remain weak.

It was in this situation that Jeremiah proclaimed, “Sing, praise, shout, for God will not abandon us, but will bring us back together in our promised land, a chosen people.”  As Jeremiah saw it, they had everything to live for, not because of any strength they had, nor any goodness of the Babylonians, but because of God!

That is Jeremiah’s message for us today.  In God we can always find something to live for.  Even in the face of the greatest devastations we can imagine, we can find hope and meaning for our lives if we look to God.

Tragedy, suffering, struggle, unfairness, sin, evil, and death are such a part of life that happiness can seem so fleeting.  We have it all together for a while, and then life throws us something at us we struggle with.  Each of us knows a time when we were unsure what we were living for, or have found ourselves alone and in despair.  Our answers to this question will certainly be different, but one thing we share in common is that God has a plan for our lives each day, and to find the most joy, happiness, and meaning in life we must seek out and live according to God’s will for our lives.  Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead He has won the victory over sin, evil, and death.  Faith in Christ opens the doors to experience victory in all of life’s hardest times.

Are you going through an especially difficult time in your life right now?  Do you know what you are living for?  Do you know what God wants you to do with your life?  Has God shown you His plan for your life in the past, but you have run away from that plan?  Is it time to find out and follow God’s plan for your life?

There was no reason for Jeremiah to believe the Jewish faith would survive the Babylonian conquest.  The times, the rules of conquest, the brutality all indicated the opposite.  But Jeremiah’s hopes were fulfilled.  Just 100 years later the Persians changed the rules of war games, and showed benevolence toward conquered peoples.  Jeremiah didn’t know exactly what would happen, but God had revealed to him that He was not done with the Jewish people.  His faith in God taught him to boldly declare what God had revealed, even if it didn’t make sense to the wisdom of the world.

What do you have to live for?  Pray about it!  Write it down!  Share it with someone.  It will make for a great luncheon conversation with a friend or spouse.  For God has great plans for your life!

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.org.