The one who trusts in the Lord . . . will be like a tree planted by the water. Jeremiah 17:7–8
In April 2019, a suburban neighborhood in Victorville, California, became buried in tumbleweeds. High winds pushed the rolling thistles into the development from the adjacent Mojave Desert where the plant grows. At maturity, the pesky weed can grow to up to six feet in height—a formidable size when it releases itself from its roots to “tumble” with the wind to scatter its seeds.
Tumbleweeds are what I picture when I read Jeremiah’s description of a person “whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5). He says that those who draw their strength from “mere flesh” will be like “a bush in the wastelands” and be unable to “see prosperity when it comes” (vv. 5–6). In sharp contrast are those who put their trust in God instead of people. Like trees, their strong, deep roots draw strength from Him, enabling them to remain full of life, even in the midst of drought-like circumstances.
Tumbleweeds and trees both have roots. Tumbleweeds, however, don’t stay connected to their life-source, causing them to dry out and die. Trees, on the other hand, remain connected to their roots, enabling them to flourish and thrive, anchored to that which will sustain them in times of difficulty. When we hold fast to God, drawing strength and encouragement from the wisdom found in the Bible and talking to Him in prayer, we too can experience the life-giving, life-sustaining nourishment He provides.
How has God sustained you in times of drought? What can you do today to drive your roots more deeply into relationship with Him?
Life-giving God, You’re my sustainer. Thank You for giving me what I need to navigate my struggles and hardships.
The word cursed in Jeremiah 17:5 is a translation of the Hebrew verb ‘arar, which means to abhor, detest. The first time we see this word in Scripture is in Genesis 3:14. “So the Lord God said to the serpent, . . . ‘Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.’ ” In Genesis 3:17 the ground is said to be cursed. Another significant usage of the word is in Genesis 12:3 where the Lord told Abram, “whoever curses you I will curse.” Whatever the “cursed” entity may be, it’s devoid of (outside of) favor and the visible and invisible things that accompany it. In Jeremiah 17:5–6, the ambiguity of what it means to be “cursed” fades in view of what is vividly pictured. It’s like being in a waterless, uninhabited place that can’t sustain life.