Depending on God Again
Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. –Jeremiah 17:5-8
The story of the Hebrew people is a story of people who moved back and forth in their trust of God. Their story endures because it is our story, an exceptionally human story. In our hardest struggles, we may find ourselves surprisingly able to pray, to be vulnerable and honest about our weaknesses and our mistakes. In those times we know that we are in need of God’s love and strength, even just to get out of bed. Three weeks later, when the pain has passed and our memory of the struggle has faded, we return all to easily to our self-reliant mindset.
When things are consistent, when things “go according to plan”, when we can anticipate every hardship we will face, we start to believe that we are in control. “I am the master of my own destiny”, we proclaim, forgetting that it is not control we have found, but a moment of stability. And it is only a moment after all. The next health crisis, the next car accident or relationship turmoil, the next ripple in the surface of our stability can capsize our little self-reliant boat.
Jeremiah is not telling the people that God will curse those who do not trust in the Lord. He is telling us that when we trust in our own power, we will be shown to trust in something powerless. When Jesus says,
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might
be saved through Him. Those who trust in Him are not condemned; but those who do not trust are
condemned already, because they have not trusted in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:17-18)
He isn’t telling us that we will be condemned for our lack of trust. He is telling us that our lack of trust in His witness will lead us away from God, and therefore into places we do not wish to go.
Trusting in God means relying on God’s strength, God’s leadership, God’s wisdom, and God’s version of love to get us through this next mess and into abundant life. Depending on God means depending on God even when things seem to be under control. It means not taking so much credit for how things work out. It means trusting that goodness, mercy, and beauty can come out of every situation, especially the ones where we feel the need to exercise more control in order to get the good outcome. If any goodness is produced, if the fruits are sweet and filling, they are the fruits of the Lord, not the fruits of our labor alone. Starting here will be the beginning of our dependence on God again.
In Peace and With Love,