What sustains our lives?

The prophet Jeremiah uses rich imagery to describe the opposite poles of our experience of love, trust, and security. When we choose to trust only in ourselves and in what we can make happen, we find ourselves living in a dry parched world where security is elusive and where we must construct safety and prosperity at the expense of others.

This is a stingy, fearful world, a wasteland where relationships wither and hopes die. The energy it takes to maintain and protect this world leads to bitterness and cynicism about those who have less.
However, Jeremiah offers a compelling, companion image. When we trust God, we open our lives to God’s gifts in those who survive at the margins of our lives and world. This trust is like planting a tree near water. Trust opens us to blessed relationships and security that surpasses the security of the world.

Jeremiah describes a world of beauty, of perpetual springtime, new growth, and fruitfulness. When we trust in God, says the prophet, our world is always green and we can expect the beauty of a life in full flower in which relationships flourish and nurture our souls.

Who is blessed?

Cursed are those who trust
in human beings, who make
mere flesh their strength,
whose hearts turn away from God.
These shall be like a shrub
in the desert that enjoys
no change of season,
but stands in a lava waste,
a salty and empty earth.

Blessed are those who trust
in God, whose hope is God.
They shall be like a tree planted
beside the waters that stretches
out its roots to the stream:
It shall not fear when the heat
comes; its leaves stay green;
in the year of drought it shows
no distress, but still bears fruit.

Jeremiah 17.5-8

  • In what ways is your life like a tree planted by the waters and rooted in the life of God?
  • How have you sustained the arid periods of your spiritual journey?
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