“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
I had a friend who owned several acres of land with a great catfish pond. Many early Saturday mornings I sat on a stump beside his fishing pond, watching the bobber on my line for the slightest movement. But even when I wasn’t fishing I loved to just sit by the water because it was bordered on three sides with lush, green trees. I often took a book with me so that if the fish weren’t biting I could sit in the shade and get lost in a good story. The drive down to the pond wasn’t as shady, the few trees along the path were not as verdant, and in one very dry summer, many of the trees died for lack of water, and the few that survived were scraggily and weak. But when you rounded the bend to the pond, the trees were alive and full of leaves because they were nearest to the water.
In our key verse, Jeremiah compares the “the man who trusts in the Lord” with one of those trees by the edge of my friend’s pond, alive with green leaves and fruit. The opposite would apply to those who do not trust in the Lord; they would be like the trees along the path in the dry heat of summer, dead, leafless and fruitless. What is important to notice in the Psalm, just as at my friend’s property, is that both—trees and people—are subjected to the heat and the drought. This is a truth we would do well to grasp – those who trust in the Lord and those who don’t will be confronted with many of the same life challenges. Being a Christian does not exempt us from the difficulties of living in this fallen world. Believers still get cancer, lose loved ones, have rebellious kids, car troubles, financial struggles, and many of the same trials that unbelievers experience. It’s just the realities of life we all face. Droughts and dry seasons will come.
Yet look at how the trees by the water endure these seasons of drought. They push their roots down farther into the ground and find the water at the deeper levels. They draw the nourishment they need from the deeper water. Likewise the one who trusts in the Lord will press in closer to Him and push their roots down farther to tap into the deeper truths of God’s character and His Word. It is a theme often repeated in Scripture, Psalm 1:1-3 says that the one who delights in God’s Word is like the tree planted by the water, never withered and always fruitful, and Psalm 92:12-15 promises that they will “still bear fruit in old age, staying fresh and green. ”
I find it especially encouraging that those trees—and believers—who drink deeply of the goodness of God “do not fear” and “have no worries” during these dry seasons. They know that everything they need to stay vibrant, green and fruitful will be provided by their good and faithful Heavenly Father. Jeremiah says we do not rely on our ability to stay strong, but our “confidence is in the Lord” our security in the drought, our hope in the trial is firmly rooted in God’s faithful, powerful, loving character. And get this, when you and I set our confidence in the unchanging nature of God, we not only survive the drought, we thrive. We “never fail to bear fruit.” I’ve seen many saints of the Lord who endured hard, difficult times yet always bore the fruit of peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faith and love. They faithfully served others despite their own pain. They continued to love that rebellious child. They were kind and gentle even when they were tired and weary. They patiently trusted God to provide when the rent was due and the money was gone. Their peace shone through while they endured chemotherapy. They were not afraid, they were not worried. They dug their roots deeper and trusted that whatever they needed, emotionally, physically, or spiritually, God would provide.
My friend, are you like the tree standing in the middle of the dry, barren field far from the water? Are your struggles draining you? Do you feel withered and weary? I encourage you to move to the water’s edge where your roots can tap into the life-giving stream of God’s goodness. There you will be fed from underground streams that never run dry. Streams of comfort and provision, hope and peace, joy and strength. Streams of life.
Come friend to the “river whose streams make glad the City of God” (Psalm 46:4). Drink deeply from the “living water” of Jesus Christ and you will never be thirsty again (John 4:10-14).
Holy Father, I want to dig more deeply into this marvelous living water; I want to be like the flourishing tree that has found the underground stream, drawing strength and hope from your unfailing love. Amen.