One of the challenges we face in our day to day life is that our view is obstructed. We live in bodies of flesh that are finite rather than infinite, in a world in which, in all honesty, we have limited understanding and control. We are like the child who opens up a book and stares at the black marks on the page. Perhaps we can recognize a few of those marks and even put several together to form a simple word but the rest remains a mystery. We can do our best to take a guess but It is beyond our understanding.
Who can fully comprehend the ways of God? No one can. Why does God seemingly turn a deaf ear to the petition of one person and not another? Why does one person recover from an illness while another person dies? Why does one face financial reunion while another seems to have "the golden touch"? There are a lot of people out there mouthing pat answers but I think we need to be very careful about putting words in God's mouth. Rather than trying to act like we are all-knowing, perhaps we need to be honest and simply say, "I don't know."
We do a lot of harm you know, trying to pretend that we have all of the answers, trying to pretend that we know the mind of God. Without meaning to do so, we burden people with self-condemnation and cause them to believe God has a personal vendetta against them and there is no love, mercy or grace. There is only punishment.
Do we realize that when we do this we are simply the mouthpiece of the enemy? Is this the "Good News" that we are commissioned to proclaim?
Perhaps someone is suffering as a result of the poor choices they have made in life. Perhaps they are suffering simply because they are fleshly creatures living in a cursed and fallen world and therefore will naturally encounter things like sorrow, sickness, pain and death regardless of what they did or did not do.
Instead of living under the bondage of condemnation, we need to cling to the promises of God, knowing that at the appointed time they will all be fulfilled.
This is what the Jews had to do during the seventy years of captivity. They were taken from their homeland, stripped of everything. In this case, it was due to their continous rebellion against God. They completely disregarded His Word and instead practiced idolatry and persecuted His prophets. They had been warned time and time again but to no avail.
Judgement came and yet there was still mercy and grace. It is unbelievable and yet it is true.
A transformation took place during their captivity. Never again would the Jews as a nation, turn to Baal worship. Things were bad, very bad yet they chose to focus on the promise. There were those living in Babylon who would never see their homeland again but they knew that at the appointed time, their people would return.
The Book of Ezra records what happened when the "appointed time" came. It did not come through an uprising and in fact, no blood was shed. It came upon God moving upon a heathen king who ironically recognizes and acknowledges that all that he had was given to him by God. He declares that God had appointed him, King Cyrus of Persia, to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem and allow the captives to return home.
It gets even better. He commands their neighbors to provide the Jews with silver, gold, livestock and supplie as well as an additional offering for the Temple. In other words, that which had been taken from the Jews was now being restored.
Perhaps for one reason or another you have been "carried off" and are living in a joyless land. You don't feel like a child of the King. You feel like a slave or a prisoner.
Hold fast to God's promises and remember that God has not abandoned you. He loves you and He is faithful. You might not see it now but at the appointed time He will turn your mourning into dancing.