This has been a hot, dry summer. The landscape and animals are showing the effects of such a harsh season; in many areas the grass is brown, crops are suffering and animals are seeking refuge indoors. The damage being done may be irreparable for this growing season. Wells are running low, even dry in some areas. Insects and animals are seeking refuge indoors (in human homes) for relief from the arid weather.
The heat and the lack of water are bearing extreme consequence on our area.
As the days pass I learn of more people who are experiencing heat and drought in their personal lives. Sure we are all affected by this summer’s meteorological heat and drought but it goes much deeper than what a thermometer and rain gauge can measure.
Times of heat and drought wreak havoc on our mental, emotional, relational and spiritual lives. Heat applies external pressure causing damage from the outside-in. Drought, being the lack of what is needed most from the inside, leads to damage spreading from the inside-out.
This type of heat comes in many forms: financial hardships, job insecurities, stress between people, peer pressure, struggles in school, upcoming moves, equipment breaking, illness/injury, and the like. Drought comes in more sneaky ways on the inside: a lack of peace, anger, conflict, broken friendships, unmet expectations, unfulfilled dreams, spiritual apathy/breakdowns, fear, breakdown of trust, doubt… more than I can list right now.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 speaks to these times of our lives:
“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.”
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture (and I know how often I say that but this scripture is one of my “life passages,” a section of scripture that encourages and guides me). I love the imagery. I love the truth. I speak on this scripture often and write about it too… I listed it as a favorite scripture here, talked about it way back here, then again here, another time here, and most recently here.
This scripture speaks.
It speaks to our (my) deepest struggles and our inmost needs.
Because the reality is that hard times will come. There is no magic combination of internal strength of character and external commitment to God that will keep hard times at bay. Scripture shows that to be true over and over and over again. Yet, scripture is also clear that in Christ we are secure and even when the tough times come we are not without hope, our future is certain, our present is protected.
When we trust in God.
Tough times will come. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says that times of heat will come and times of drought will happen. BUT when we place our trust in God, when we dig our roots deep into Him… we need not fear and we will never fail to bear fruit.
So how do we do this? How do we develop “roots” so deep that we needn’t fear when heat comes and have the security to know that we will bear fruit even in times of drought?
Tonight I offer a few scriptures that help me to lean not in my own understanding but instead to trust in God with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6). Because it is so important to guard my heart as it guides my actions (Proverbs 4:23).
First I dig deep into the powerful truth found in Ephesians 6: 10-18
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Here I remember what I am really struggling against because sometimes when I face the “heat” of life or the times of “drought” I get distracted from the battle that I’m really facing and blame it on other things. And I need this reminder because in the admonition to know what I’m really struggling against I am equipped with the proper armor to face the battle.
And when the “heat” and “drought” seem almost overwhelming and we fear we don’t have the strength to carry on… run straight to the truth in Romans 8. (We should spend A LOT OF TIME in Romans!!!)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Here we are face to face with the beautiful character of God, our rescuer who does not wait for us to be strong enough to seek Him but instead equips us with His Spirit that when we cannot, when we are at our weakest, he intercedes on our behalf.
So much so that we can know and claim the truth of Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
And here we find hope- hope that even in the hottest, driest time of our lives that God is at work for our good.
Because after all, Romans 8:31 speaks to our broken, bruised and weary hearts
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
We see the beauty of the love of God for us, that no matter the attacks from the outside, no matter our weaknesses from within… the beauty, the wonder, the glory of it all is that God is for us… and nothing… NOTHING… can be against us!
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 speaks right to the heart of it and tells us why, in the middle of the heat no matter how hot, right in the drought no matter how deep, we are secure… because nothing… NOTHING… can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
We are that tree by the water when our trust is in God. The tough times will come from around us, the barren times may run deep within but we are secure in Him.
What times of heat and drought are you facing tonight? Send me a message, I’d be honored to pray for you. But most of all dig deep into the truth of God revealed in His word and allow the Spirit to minister to the deepest cracked and parched places of your soul.
God, you see more clearly than I can ever imagine all those who are suffering tonight. You know the pressures that they face from the heat of life. You, God know the desperation they face from the deepest droughts from within their hearts. God meet them in these broken and trying places. Bring your healing to their wounds, rest for their weary souls and hope where they’ve give up. Give them encouragement from Your Word! Bless them with brothers and sisters in Christ to walk this journey along side them. God help us to dig deep into you just as a tree sends its roots out into the stream. In you alone God we are secure, our needs are taken care of, and true security is found. Thank you that you love us that much that even when we are weak and unable we can know with assurance that you take care of us. Help us to dig deep into your love in our times of blessing and our moments of greatest need. Amen