Seventy years is a long time to be where you don’t want to be. But that was the situation the citizens of Judah found themselves in. Taken from their homeland, exiled to Babylon, for seventy years—which meant that some would never see home again.
It was their fault, really. The whole invasion and exile debacle could have been avoided if they had listened to the message of God’s prophets. They were warned repeatedly that unless they turned away from idolatry, they would suffer for it. And suffer they did.
But there is beauty in the way God disciplines His children. For one thing, He does not withdraw one iota of His love. For another, the purpose of His discipline is always to correct and restore.
Leaving home for seventy years didn’t mean losing connection with God. In fact, the people were better off in exile than they would have been back home. Exile meant mercy and restoration. Home would have meant more idol worship, more debauchery, more (justified) condemnation. At least for those seventy years, Babylon was the best place for them.
Proverbs 15:16 makes a similar point related to possessions: “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” Sometimes it is better to be where we don’t want to be or to have less than (or other than) we want to have, if it means God is correcting us and moving us toward restoration and greater fruitfulness.
If you find yourself in a difficult place, and even if you can trace the difficulty back to some disobedience on your part, accept that it is better to be in the place of God’s correction than “back home” where God seemed distant.
“When seventy years are completed for Babylon,
I will visit you,
and I will fulfill to you my promise
and bring you back to this place.”
(Jeremiah 29:10 ESV)