Words of Encouragement: “I will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” — Jeremiah 29:14b

We stray and God continues to love us. We confess our sin; He listens. We repent and He forgives. How grateful we are for a God who cares enough to provide an avenue of reconciliation: the blood of His Son, who died that we might have life in His name.

As believers in Christ, we understand when the Father disciplines those He loves, just as our earthly mothers and fathers tend to do. But the question remains, “Do all the tough times we encounter come about as a result of sinful actions on our part?”

Sometimes, tough times come about as a result of the sins of others, as in the case of the abuse a child suffers at the hands of a parent; or the death of a loved one whose car is struck by a drunk driver. As painful as these tragic events may be, we can somehow manage to understand with at least a portion of our brain. Sin on the part of someone is the culprit. And our world is saturated with sin.

Sometimes, however, there is no clear-cut, direct or immediate connection between the sin and the horror. What about the tragedies that appear to have no correlation to what we—or those around us—have done? Is it possible that some things just happen? That out of sheer dumb luck we find ourselves in the path of a random act coming down the pike?!

What a horridly scary thought—a universe running amok with no one at the helm. Everyone helplessly at the mercy of some lunatic who wants nothing more than to inflict serious harm on others!

Fortunately, this is not the case today. Our God is a sovereign God. He rules with His awesome power and is in control at all times. He tells us in the book of Romans that “all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

What a comforting thought! Even when the world around us is chaotic, we know God is in control. There is nothing to fear.

The children of Israel knew this. When they wandered away, God raised up a nation to overcome them, and to take them into exile. This was tough medicine; the fact that those God raised up were more wicked than they made it even harder to swallow.

It was God who sent them into exile. But He did not just leave them. He blessed them in their captivity and after 70 years caused their enemies to send them home.

Why did God exile His children? Because they had turned away and were living for Self. As much as it undoubtedly pained Him, God needed to discipline them in order to bring them back onto the His path of righteousness.

In this case there wasn’t a single or immediate sin that caused the discipline God levied against the nation. Rather, it was the accumulation of the disobedience of an entire nation over a period of time.

God works the same way today. He disciplines on an individual level, as well as on a national level. But through it all, we can know that He is in control and will bring us back from the exile into which He carries us.

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