7 Happy are those who trust in the LORD,
who rely on the LORD.
8 They will be like trees planted by the streams,
whose roots reach down to the water.
They won’t fear drought when it comes;
their leaves will remain green.
They won’t be stressed in the time of drought
or fail to bear fruit.
These verses may sound pious and abstract, but that’s not how Jeremiah meant them. Around them we find a whole set of warnings that the Israelites are not trusting God, and instead trying to navigate life with their own wisdom while ignoring God’s principles. Today’s reading, far from abstract, was a passionate call from God (through the prophet) for God’s people to change their ways. If they would root their lives in trust in God, they would grow spiritually strong enough to withstand any test that came their way.
- We don’t have to be experts to know that whether we want a green lawn that can survive summer’s heat or trees that will stand firm in the midwestern winds that sweep across our prairies, the depth of the plants’ roots is critically important. Following Jeremiah’s lead, how firmly rooted do you believe your trust in God is right now?
- Scholar J. Andrew Dearman focused on the way Jeremiah contrasted those who are “cursed” with those who “trust” in God. “These two terms are used in the great listings of curses and blessings in Deuteronomy 27–28. The contrast is between trust in human effort and design, and reliance on God.”* Which do you trust more: your own effort, or God’s leading? In what ways do you want your trust in God grow more deeply rooted, less likely to be stressed by any “drought” conditions life throws your way?
Fast. A conscious decision to abstain from something in order to focus more on God. Examples include: fasting for an entire day or meal (please check with your doctor before choosing to do so), eliminating a specific food (desserts or alcohol for example), or refraining from a practice (mindless web browsing or complaining). Each time you feel the urge to participate in the activity chosen, devote time in prayer to redirect that time to focus on God.
What will you fast this Lent?
Lord, sometimes my soul gets so dry and thirsty. Help me learn how to sink my roots deeper into your way of life, so that I anchor myself firmly for good or bad challenges that come in life. Amen.
* J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, Lamentations. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002, p. 175.
Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.