Daily Bible Reading Reflections

Why Wither in the Desert When You Can Thrive by Streams of Living Water?

In Jeremiah 17, the LORD is speaking through his prophet to the wayward people of Judah.

Thus says the LORD:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.

“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.” (17:5-6)

On the other hand…

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.

“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.” (17:7-8)

It’s an ancient contrast, but representative of the fundamental choice each of us will make today, tomorrow, throughout this week, and for the rest of our lives. The path of the parched shrub or the well-watered tree? Withering in the desert or thriving by the living stream? Unanchored anxiety or deep-rooted endurance? Waste or fruit? A heart turned away from the LORD or oriented toward him? Cursed or blessed?

On what will the outcome hinge? The object of my trust.

Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
who makes the LORD his strength
whose heart is inclined toward the LORD.

In no uncertain terms, our Creator has diagnosed our fundamental problem, revealed his awesome nature, and defined the serious stakes.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
I the LORD search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds. (17:9-10)

Lies abound in the cruel wilderness of selfishness and sin, but the LORD is the never-ending fountain of living water (17:13). Incline your heart toward him. Trust him, allowing him to direct your steps. Submit to him, respecting his thoughts as infinitely higher than yours. His ways, holy ways. The best ways. Root yourself in him and do not fear, even when the heat comes. Make him your strength. Wait for him, even in the year of drought. Season after season, watch and marvel as his Spirit bears his fruit in your life to his glory.

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved,
for you are my praise. (17:14)

What good sense does it make to stubbornly wither in the desert when you can thrive by streams of living water?