Last week I wrote about grit, how it is a determiner between success and failure. Grit is a real deal characteristic we can instill in our children with help from the Lord. There is one thing grit is and there is another thing that it isn’t. Grit is strong-mindedness and purpose-driven excelling through difficulties and affliction. Grit isn’t pulling yourself up by your boot straps. Nothing in the Christian life gets accomplished by doing anything on your own and with your own will power. And that is why I cling to and adore this passage in Jeremiah 17.
“Thus says the Lord:
‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
7 ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
8 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.'” Jeremiah 17:5-8 (emphasis mine)
When, when, when the heat comes. Not if the heat comes. Not if – when. When trouble, affliction, pain, heartache, trial, job loss, infertility, sickness, life, heat come the person who trusts in the Lord will not fear.
If the person whose trust is the Lord is compared to a tree whose leaves remain green in the time of drought, how is that? The current circumstances have no affect on this tree. Its roots are deep, drinking up that water it is planted near, and that tree remains unaffected by the drought. This translates into the hope of the Believer in Jesus Christ who never changes though all around him gives way. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The source of nourishment (the stream) for the tree remains and never wavers, just like the Source of our faith and hope is in a Person, our God who forgives and loves and takes care of and protects His children.
Because the tree was carefully planted by a stream of water, it doesn’t fear when the heat comes because it can continue to grow and remain healthy due to the stream as its life-giving helper. That tree is tethered to the stream, with direct access to its refreshment. We all have direct access to the Life Giver if we remain and abide with Him. When we abide with Jesus we will not cease to bear fruit, just like the tree planted by the stream of water survives the terrible drought.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:4-11 (emphasis mine)
That tree is neither fearful nor anxious. God’s word says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7. Life is SCARY, and we never know what curve ball will be thrown to us next. But knowing that our source of life is our God who never changes and He holds our hand in the mundane and in the tragedies, our hearts can be comforted.
After becoming a believer, I learned a lot about reading the Word in context. So look what comes directly after Philippians 4:7 in verses 8-9:
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
All of that: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praise-worthy is Jesus … It’s HIM. Remain in Him, keep our eyes on Him. How? Pray, read, talk about Him, encourage your heart with memorizing Scripture, talk about Jesus with your children and friends and spouse and family. Keep Jesus on the tip of your tongue and the forefront of your mind.
When that drought comes, when that heat comes, and I am telling you, it is coming, you will be “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.” (Jeremiah 17)