Jeremiah contrasts the tree on the bank of the flowing stream with a bush in the wastelands. This bush is just a little scrub bush that sits in the sun and burns up “in a salt land where no one lives” (Jeremiah 17:6). This is not to say there were no other scrub bushes around; it was just that no bush “lived” there – really lived there. You may be a scrub-bush person surrounded by hundreds of other scrub bushes but feel as lonely as if you were absolutely on your own in the desert. It is not pleasant to be a scrub bush in the wastelands.
It is possible to be a Christian and yet feel as isolated and cut off from anything fresh and living as the scrub bush in the wastelands. I have met such little scrub bushes in the far corners of the world as well as in North America. Do you feel as if I am describing you? Let me ask you some questions.
Do you ever go to church and feel lonely even though you are in a crowd? Do you look around at your Christian friends and find that they are all as dead and dry as you feel? Above all, do you feel alone?
One characteristic of life in the Spirit is the consciousness of the presence of God so you never feel alone. As you live life in the Spirit, you might be alone physically, but you will never be lonely spiritually – and there is a difference. Jeremiah certainly felt alone. He was abandoned by his family and his people, but he wrote about an experience of obedience in his relationship with God that led to his roots’ being in the river of life. He discovered that God was nearer than breathing, closer than hands and feet. He was a person who had no worries in a year of relational drought.
So has this been a year of drought for you? Perhaps your friendships shriveled or funds dried up. Maybe you got passed over for a promotion that you had waited all your life to win. It could be that you moved to a different city because of your husband’s job and your marriage has taken a beating because of the move. Is your child doing poorly in school? Is the heat on for your Christian child who is getting laughed at by her schoolmates?
When you have experienced a year of drought in any of these areas, it is bound to bring worries into your life. But worries are drowned in the river of God! The tree planted by the river has “no worries in a year of drought” (Jer. 17:8) because its roots reach into the river of healing and help. That river of life provides renewed trust in the God who can give you refreshment.
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