I ironed three shirts and two pairs of pants last night.
Ordinarily, the hiss of my iron might as well be the thundering hooves of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, so rarely do I bother to press clothing. But last night, it felt like an act of hope.
My husband and I both left our offices to work remotely last week, and we received word shortly afterward that our church was closing its doors until the pandemic is contained. We won’t be going anywhere that requires wrinkle-free clothing for the foreseeable future. It comforted me to straighten out the collar on my husband’s button-up and soothe the unsightly creases in my dress pants because it reminded me that one day, we will most likely return to our public lives—and we’ll look halfway decent when we do.
That small comfort reminded me of a similar sign God performed through the prophet Jeremiah during another crisis centuries ago.
Jerusalem was under siege by Babylon, and the outlook was grim. Within days, the Babylonians would break through the walls, burn the city, and take its residents captive. Destitution and misery were imminent.
Yet in the face of such devastation, God told Jeremiah to buy a field from a relative in his hometown. Jeremiah, bewildered, did as he was told, then asked God the reason. God’s response, recorded for us in Jeremiah 32, is breathtaking:
“I am the Lord, the God of all humankind. There is nothing too difficult for me. … You and your people are right in saying, ‘War, starvation, and disease are sure to make this city fall into the hands of the king of Babylon.’ But now I, the Lord God of Israel, have something further to say about this city: I will certainly regather my people from all the countries where I have exiled them … I will bring them back to this place and allow them to live here in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”
In other words, Jeremiah’s investment would one day pay off. As foolish as it seemed to buy land in a country on the brink of destruction, that land would yield harvests again.
Unlike Jeremiah, we don’t have a direct revelation explaining why today’s crisis is happening and assuring us that all will be set to right. But we can still take comfort from this passage today.
First, we can be assured that nothing is too difficult for God. Watching cases erupt all over the globe and the economy plunge into a free-fall certainly makes it feel as though our world is spinning out of control—but it’s not. If God sees fit to restore health and stability to the nations, he can, and he will.
But second—and this is most important—even if the devastation wrought by this pandemic lasts beyond our lifetimes, it can’t keep us apart from God.
God promised Jeremiah he would restore the entire nation after its exile in Babylon, but the best part wasn’t that they would get their land back. It was that they would be God’s people once again.
So, let’s keep ironing those clothes—and helping our kiddos with homework, and planning next year’s family vacation, as we hope for a swift end to this crisis.
But above all, let’s seek to know God and to be His. That’s the only hope that is guaranteed not to disappoint.