Have you ever been to the beach at high noon on a hot and sunny summer afternoon? It’s searing. If you take your sandals off your feet are scorched. As you walk down the beach you feel the heat radiating from the ground. The whole scene, which at first looked inviting, is actually quite oppressive. In fact, it makes sense that nothing grows out of the sand on a beach, or a desert for that matter, because the heat withers life.
The Bible often uses a desert scene as a backdrop for spiritual lessons. One of my favorites comes from the prophet Jeremiah. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust is in the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
I think many of us have experienced what Jeremiah is talking about, whether we know it or not. You see when we experience the forgiveness Jesus offers us it’s like we’ve been made alive. If we picture ourselves as little saplings, we’ve been planted in the best possible spot. We find ourselves right next to the stream and everything is good. But sooner or later we experience hardship. It might come in the form of doubt or trial. We may become sick, lose a loved one, or come under the ridicule of a co-worker.
What happens then? We enter into a “year of drought”. The green grass that once surrounded us begins to wither and become like the sand; hot, dusty…withering. In fact all around us we see evidence that the heat is winning. Maybe you’ve been there, where those who you used to trust , even Christians, have left you. You are all alone. No one likes to go through drought. But it’s in the drought where God proves himself to be faithful.
You see there is a key difference between those who know Jesus and those who don’t. It’s their ability to produce fruit at all times. Jeremiah, more than any other prophet, knew what drought looked like. He was constantly suffering for God. But, even though drought comes, he said confidently the disciple need not get anxious. Why? Because God will still produce fruit through them. In other words, you will not wither in the heat!
Last week we talked about the rain. This week we’re talking about the desert. In each instance we need to see that God has no desire to allow the elements of life to have their way with you. You are not alone. God sustains us through the difficult moments of life. Every day brings a whole new list of unsettling realities. Financial pressures, job pressures, fear of terror plots…all of these things tend to throw us into seasons of drought. But know this, God has planted you deeply into His soil and with God we will never wither. I pray the truth uttered by God’s prophet so many years ago will bring you peace today. You need not be anxious when the drought comes.
How can we keep our leaves green in seasons of drought?
Jeremiah makes mention of the fact that trust is an important factor in staying green. What part should trust play for us and in what should we trust?