When Heat Comes – Jeremiah 17

The prophet Jeremiah cautioned the people of Judah, as well as us today, that times of “scorching heat” will come into each of our lives.  Intermingled among the many blessings we experience will be hot, dry seasons when things just seem to be going wrong all around us.  This is just a fact of life, a consequence of living in a fallen world.  One day, the world will be made right at the return of Jesus Christ, but in the here and now, we must prevail through a series of troubles, trials, and conflicts that will come our way.

Human DNA seems to be stimulated by conflict.  We are like boxers that hear the bell and are ready to come up fighting at any challenge.  Without God in our life, we react and retaliate against all offenses, real or imagined, and often end up making our problems much worse as a result.  Underlying our behavior is fear – we believe that whatever is coming against us must be overcome and defeated through our own resources.  It is us alone against the world.

Jeremiah tells us that if this is the way we choose to live, we will miss out on many good things in our lives.  Peace, serenity, and joy will be fleeting, quickly overcome by the anxieties of the latest challenge.  He tells us that there is a better way to live – the life of faith.

“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.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

When we are able to trust God to protect us in times of trouble rather than to worry or to retaliate, we allow the miracle of reconciliation to happen.  We can experience a negative event without reacting in anger – we see the trial and feel the heat, but we trust in the Lord to deal with it rather than to take matters into our own hands.

In times of trouble, life can appear to be hopeless.  One discouraging thing after another may occur, and soon all we can imagine are even worse things happening.  The flames of fear fan up in our hearts, and a sense of panic can set in. 

But God wants us to stay calm in these times and to keep faith in our hearts, even when our eyes do not see Him.  He wants us to know that He is there, nourishing our roots beneath the soil, and building us up for a brighter and better future following Him.

During one difficult time in my work career, I wrote out the above Bible passage and put it on my wall where I could see it throughout the day.  It helped me to get through a challenging season, emerging stronger and in a favorable light with the company despite a failed project.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed this concept of trusting God to get us through our day-to-day challenges.  By putting our faith in Him, He will see that we not only survive, but thrive.

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:31-33 NIV

When the heat comes, whatever the situation, God wants us to remember Him and to turn our trials and troubles over to His tender care.  He will never let us down and will always hold us up in His loving hands, providing for all of our needs.

Is this easy to do? No, it is not. But any progress we make in this direction will bring great blessing and a sense of serenity. May God help us to grow along these lines, learning to trust Him more with our daily challenges, and to help settle our differences with others in a peaceful manner, without resorting to conflict.

Reflection

Lord, thank You that I can lean upon You whenever any challenge or problem comes my way.  Teach me and empower me in the Holy Spirit to trust in You rather than to get angry or plan retaliation for an offense.  Remind me that You are always there, protecting and nourishing me, even in times of great difficulty.  Prepare me for greater, more fruitful days ahead even as we endure difficult seasons together.  Grant me peace and serenity as I rest in You in the eye of the storm.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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