Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth (Jer 17:5-6).
We made a trip to Colorado last summer, and on the way home, we went into a volcano. At Capulin, New Mexico, there is a national monument with a trail down into the vent of a volcano that went extinct about 60,000 years ago. When I hear of a “barren bush” in a “lava waste,” Capulin is exactly what comes to mind. There are small shrubs and scrubby piñon pines. There is life . . . but it is baked hard and dry. It holds on by a thread.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought, it shows no distress, but still bears fruit (Jer 17:7-8).
The volcano was really just a side trip. We had actually made the two-day drive for the sake of hiking in the Rockies, right along a tributary to the Arkansas River. The difference from Capulin could not have been more drastic. Pine trees, ferns, clover, strawberries, and flowers of every color studded the sides of the trails. We climbed up into aspen groves and then above them, and as long as the water was there, the richness of life continued.
I feel like I’ve lived in the desert and on the riverside at different times in my life, and what has made the difference is where I have placed my hope. When I place my hope in my own strength, I find myself grouchy, short-tempered, and tired. Any little request from my children feels like too much, making dinner feels like too much, even prayer feels like God asking too much of me. Sometimes I just need a nap, but even when I’m rested, it’s often clear that my own strength just isn’t enough.
When I hope in God, bringing all my troubles to him, he refreshes me. The water may be cold, even shocking (just like those mountain streams!), but it is also life-giving.
God reminds me that dinner doesn’t have to be perfect, just on the table.
He reminds me that I have friends to call when I need advice or just a patient ear.
He reminds me that putting off folding laundry is not the end of the world—especially if it is so I can read my child another book or go for a walk on a beautiful day.
When I hope in God, my priorities shift. I don’t need to worry about what anyone thinks of me, or of how many tasks I check off of my list today. I doubt if I’ll ever show no sign of distress, but I do know I need not fear the drought, because I can always send my roots into God’s word and God’s faithful love, so that, with his help, I can continue to bear fruit.