"For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay.
And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard went forth, and he saw that his olive tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not."
This whole chapter/allegory is amazing, and perhaps too big to cover in one sitting. If you haven't read it, I definitely recommend it. One thing that strikes me right here in the first couple of verses is the great love that God has for us. In this allegory, we are the fruit of the olive tree that the master of the vineyard wants to preserve. When even the best tree in the garden starts to decay or produce bitter fruit, the master does everything he can to save it. He tries to strengthen it with branches from other trees. He transplants branches from the main tree to other trees with vibrant roots. Part of the story here is the scattering and gathering of Israel. It's all done for a purpose, in order to save us, and to keep us good.
I think the message here is always true, not just in relation to why he would scatter us and then gather us home again... but in relation to everything that happens in our lives. I know that it is hard to keep that perspective while looking forward, but I think that we all can look back at things in our lives that seemed bleak, and see that they were preparing us, or teaching us, or opening the way for other opportunities that we now have.
Today, let's discuss things with God, and try to remember that no matter what we're going through, even now, that it is all designed to save us and help us, and keep us good. :)