Do you ever scream that in your heart and mind?
Jeremiah 17:8 says, “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
If you’re like me, you wonder how this verse could be true. I live in a world that looks the opposite of that verse, and I feel hopeless and helpless at times. Where was I when God gave out the tools to make that tree beautiful? How does one remain green and not anxious in the year of drought?
How can Jeremiah say we should always produce good fruit and everything should be joyful all the time?
But does he really say that?
Verses 5-8 are a contrast between one who is cursed by trusting in man and one who is blessed by trusting in the Lord. Verses 10-12 are a similar contrast and by verse 14, Jeremiah is crying out to be healed and delivered. The passage is addressing Judah’s sin throughout. They had betrayed the Lord, worshiped other Gods, kept the “high places” and Jeremiah was going into captivity with them having not sinned against the Lord in this way.
In the middle of all of that are verses 9 and 10. I am humbled by those verses and often add my name to them.
Lauren’s heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; she does not understand it. I the Lord search Lauren’s heart and test her mind, to give her according to her ways, according to the fruit of her deeds.
Later in Chapter 17, Jeremiah has his remedy for healing. In verses 19-23, the Lord reminds us not to worship as Judah has done and be fruitless. In verses 24-27, the Lord reminds us to worship Him and what great fruit we will see!
We WILL experience “heat and drought.” I feel like I frequently go through hard stuff. I get tired and weary…and am probably selfish and bitter too. There are many people who handle that better than I do. I’m sure you can name your “heat and drought” also.
The Lord encourages us to continue to worship Him. In HIS timing and because of HIS work in us, we will remain “green and not anxious.” For each of us, that fruit may come at different times and in different ways because of who He has made us to be in Him.
It’s important to remember verses 9 and 10. Our hearts are deceitful above all things and we must keep our eyes on Him. We don’t have the answers, the love, the courage, the wisdom, the patience, the hope, the kindness, etc. we need to have. He does, and He will work it in us.
I think, at times, it’s hard for us to rest in His grace because what we are going through is painful. We forget how good He is.
He is so good that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us. Jesus took on the wrath of God in our stead so we could have a relationship with the Father forever. I am reminded of Ephesians 2:8-10,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
He is so good that He goes ahead of His people and creates good works for us to walk in.
the words in Jeremiah 29:11, said to the people, and Jeremiah who had not sinned against Him in the same way AND was still going into captivity, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”…to remain green, fearless, and without worry. They would call out to HIM again. They would long for HIM again. They would worship HIM again.
They would still remain in captivity for 70 years and Jeremiah would still be thrown into a pit and falsely accused, but the Lord would be their King again. There would be joy, even in the midst of hardship.
The rest and joy we are looking for is like the roots by the stream the tree sends out. The tree stays close to what gives it nourishment – the water. A.W. Pink says this “refers to Christ, and tells us that just as a tree derives life and fruitfulness from the adjacent river—so the believer, by communion, draws from the fullness there is for him in Christ.”
He gives some examples:
In times of trial, pray for faith.
In times of suffering, pray for patience.
In times of disappointment, pray for meekness.
In times of danger, pray for courage.
In times of blessings, pray for thanksgiving.
In times of prosperity, pray for joy.
Jeremiah reminds us that the one who does this “does not cease to bear fruit.” Rest in Him!
Questions to consider…
- Where are you looking for rest and joy?
- Where else in God’s Word do we see faithful people like Jeremiah suffering? How did God call them to respond?
- What do you typically pray for when trials come? What else does the Lord want for you or from you?
- From what we see in other passages, why does God sometimes answer “no,” “wait,” or “not that way”?
- How does God’s past blessings and future promises comfort us in present hard times?
- Who has God given you as a faithful believer to help you stay close to Christ?