Let’s take a closer look at the two plants described in Jeremiah 17:5-8. What really makes them different? They both experience the same in life. They both face heat; they both face droughts; they both endure fierce winds and storms. They both face difficulties. The difference is their SOURCE.
Blessed Brad’s roots go down into the stream. His source is God. His confidence is in the Lord.
Cursed Chris’s roots go down into sand. His source is man. His confidence is in the flesh.
The difference between the bush that is parched & dry & starving & wasting away – and the tree that is healthy & vibrant & thriving & confident – is NOT what they experience in life. The Scripture is clear that they BOTH experience some pretty harsh conditions. The difference is their Source – the thing that feeds and nourishes them and gives them confidence.
The bush “trusts in man and depends on the flesh for his strength” while the tree “trusts in God and has its confidence in the Lord”.
I can think of numerous people in my life who are like those trees planted by streams of water: Dianna Cash, Dan Hart, Lauren Marquez, Richard Stephens, and more:
- They do not fear when the heat comes.
- Their leaves are always green.
- They have no worries in the year of drought.
- They never fail to bear fruit in season.
They faithfully love and serve God – in both good times and in bad times; they remain faithfully dependent upon God in all circumstances.
You all know people like that, too. Several are probably coming into your mind right now…
There is a chapter in the Book of Hebrews that has a listing of many of the people from the Old Testament who remained faithfully dependent on God in the midst of all kinds of circumstances. It’s Hebrews chapter 11 – it’s like the Bible’s “Hall of Fame” – the list of all the finest “oaks” in OT history! Surely these individuals were “trees planted by streams of water” – the one unifying characteristic of all the people who made this list is that they TRUSTED IN God. Listen to the beginning of each verse…
“By faith…, By faith…, By faith…” – what sets these people apart is that they TRUSTED IN God!!! It’s not that their lives were easy or that they had the best circumstances – not at all! In fact, if you read back through the list, you’ll find people who faced some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable:
[Some] were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. –Hebrews 11:35-38
Using Jeremiah’s analogy, these people were trees whose confidence was in God, even though they faced drought & heat & storms. Their trust, their hope, and their confidence was in the Lord.
And lest we resign this type of faith to these “super-spiritual Biblical heroes” alone, we MUST remember that these were ordinary, flawed, limited, scared, insecure people – just like you and me – working out their faith imperfectly with the patient help of their perfect Father. This is essential for us to “get” – to truly understand!
I look at Peter as an example. Peter trusted in the Lord with all his heart, AND he made major mistakes, repeatedly! Now, that’s not my license to fail without trying – it is my hope in the loving help, partnership, and restoration of the Lord, despite my limitations and short-comings.
YOU CAN DO THIS! You can have a faith like Abraham, Joseph, Rahab, Gideon, Ruth, Jonathan, Ezra, Mary Magdeline, Peter, and Zacchaeus! These heroes are NOT untouchable, and their level of faith is NOT unreachable. “The same Spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the dead resides in YOU!” –Romans 8:11. Even the smallest measure of faith brings great pleasure to the heart of God! He can establish a great oak of righteousness from even the tiniest seed of faith. He eagerly and joyfully upholds those who entrust themselves to Him, through any and all circumstances.