Passage: Jeremiah 17:5-10
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (v.9- NASB)
My heart has been broken numerous times. I know that this is true to most everyone. As long as your heart is beating, it is a fact that it will be broken at some point in time. Friends come and go, loved ones leave our lives. Promises are broken, lies are told and dreams are shattered. I’ve felt sick to my bones with the pain of separation, loneliness, betrayal. I don’t think I’m alone on this.
When I think about each time that my heart was broken, there is always one element that keeps showing up: a human being. Whether it was a friend, a boyfriend, a family member or a co-worker, people will break your heart. And it goes both ways. I have broken someone’s heart. You have too. That is our nature. We’re all sinful, selfish men and women who have an innate tendency to serve the famous “Me, Myself and I” trio before anyone else.
I personally have a very transparent type of personality. I am wired to trust people. Some people are cautious. I’m not. At least I’m not “naturally” cautious. I’ve learned through the years to develop more sensitivity to the signs that people will send you when they really don’t care for you as you hope they would. Most of the time, you know when someone does not truly love you for who you are. They send you signs. We just sometimes opt to close our eyes and ignore them. Thus, whether we had any idea that it was coming, or we were totally caught off guard, we will invariably have our hearts broken at some point in time in our lives.
Then I read this passage in Jeremiah and I remember how much my life has changed since that morning in September 1995 when I surrendered my life to Jesus. I lived my life as the “bush in the wasteland” until then. I relied 100% on human and earthly resources. I relied on my own strength, on people’s love. I relied on material guarantees and worldly riches – all of which are temporary, fragile and vain.
I had no time for God. I had no desire for Him. So He, in His love, took away much of what (I thought) I had – one by one – health, people I loved, possessions. I was broken and at the bottom of the well. It was right there that I looked up. It was right there that someone told me about Jesus. It was right there that I surrendered to Him. He held my hand. He told me I would never be alone again. He lifted me up. He pulled me out. And then, He planted me by the River of Life – the one described in Jeremiah 17. Listen to these words:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Vs 7-8 NASB
The image of the tree planted by the water depicts several characteristics of the life that is planted by the River of Life:
1) This life grows – this is true for the organic aspect of the tree as much as it is for the soul that trusts in the Lord: planted in good soil, the roots will grow deeper, just as it happens when we sink our roots into the depths of the knowledge of God. Our lives will produce fruit of peace, joy and love. The spiritual life, just like the plant life, knows no stagnation. If it’s not growing, it’s dying.
2) This life is beautiful – A robust, large tree is one of God’s most glorious creations. Its vast branches are a place of rest in the heat of the day.
Godly character, just as the tree in our passage, is beautiful. A person whose trust is in the Lord has a peaceful countenance in the midst of the hardest trials. Their presence is a rest for the weary, a godly influence for the broken-hearted.
3) This life is strong – A strong rooted tree that is planted by the water can resist many climatic changes. It does not fear the scorching heat, the mighty winds or the torrential rains. Just as the tree, the Christian life is full of torrents and trials. As a matter of fact, for the believer, many times it seems like the furnace is turned “seven-times hotter” as it was for Daniel and his friends (Daniel 3:24-25). But it is in the midst of the fire that we find Him, the same Presence that was with Daniel in the furnace.
Storms will make the tree which is planted by the water bend, lose some leaves and even break some branches. But the deep-rooted tree will flourish again. Likewise, the ever flowing energy that dwells in a heart that trusts God will keep a person from breaking. When our strength fails, His is unchangeable
2 Cor 4:9 says “ We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” NASB
4) This life bears fruit – “and never fails to bear fruit” v. 8b. The fruit of a tree is the final development of its producing life. Likewise, all forms of religious thoughts and feelings, sermons and prayers culminate in this very thing: that our lives produce good fruit.
“My Father is glorified by this – that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:7-9
If Christ is our living root, there is no limit to this process. We should bear more and more fruit as we abide in Him and the longer we abide in Him.
So the question is – where are we planted? Have we secured our roots by the River of Life and therefore receive nourishment from Its streams every day? Or are we like the “bush in the wasteland” of Jeremiah 17:6, still placing our trust in men and in worldly things? If so, our bush is what our bush will be – pitiful, small and underdeveloped. Our fruits are meager and no one will be encouraged by our lives. When trials come, we will despair.
On the other hand – if we put our trust in God who raised His Son from the dead, the very Power who SPOKE the world into existence, the One who is All-Knowing and All-Powerful, no one and nothing will break us. The winds will strike us, the waters will pass us, and our tree, even if struck down, will rise and flourish again.
When life’s trials come our way, God’s promise in Isaiah 43 gives hope to those who are firmly planted on Him:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” (NASB)
The way to peace in the midst of the storm is laid out before us. We must secure our hearts from the influence of this world and from any fears by meditating on His Word and reaching out to the Author and Keeper of life in prayer. We cannot be planted by the streams of God and stay stagnant. If we are truly in Him, our lives will show.
To those who don’t know Him and to those who do know Him as their Savior, but are wandering away from Him in the desert, hear His call today:
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28 (NASB)
Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
(Stayed Upon Jehovah by Frances Havergal, 1876)
Dear Lord, thank you that you planted my feet by Your blessed River of Life, Jesus Christ. Thank you that, although life is full of trials, Your promise to keep me from breaking is true and tried. I can look back with thankfulness at the times that you were the strength that I needed when I was too weak. And I can look forward with anticipation that you will always deliver me, protect me and provide for me. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith every day, and choose to keep trusting You because, unlike people, You will never break my heart. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!