This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who trust in mortals, who depend on flesh for their strength and whose hearts turn away from the LORD. They will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert in a salt land where no one lives.” Jeremiah 17:5-6
I’ve been offended, rejected, used. I’ve gone through suffering, sadness, hostility. There are painful experiences I have had to let go of and people I have needed to reconcile with. This, I know is true for all of us. The problem however, is never the outside issues; the problem is the heart.
The Lord says that when our hearts turn away from Him we will be like a bush in the wastelands – parched and dried up. When we rely on man, when our hope is conditional, we wither.
Yes, I’ve been hurt by much and had to forgive much, but the hardest person I have ever had to forgive is myself. For most of my life, the “mortal” I trusted in was me; the “flesh” I depended on was my own. I honestly, and foolishly thought that I would never let myself down. How could I? With all of my strength and sass and will power, I could handle any trial or temptation! I really wanted to believe that, but unfortunately I was betrayed in my own skin, I wasn’t able, and I failed.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Whenever my world crumbled around me, I didn’t cry out to my Father. Instead, I took things into my own hands claiming control and seeking revenge. I made a lot of mistakes not becoming of a child of God. I chased sick cravings, and turned often to Satan’s lies and deceptive pleasures. My mind was severely poisoned and I didn’t even care. So what if I was perpetuating sin and death, because I had my heart to protect. These were my coping mechanisms and survival skills for enduring hardships.
I was a rebel in the wastelands. It took me years to figure it out, but none of my “being tough” or “dealing with things” was life giving. I was being sucked dry by ongoing faithlessness in the Lord.
Thankfully though, my Redeemer showed me a new way to live…
“But blessed are those who trust 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
Don’t those verses just make you want to let out a sigh of relief and contentment? How much sweeter it is to trust in the Lord than to trust in flesh! I praise God for the work He has done in bringing me from a dying bush in the desert, to a fearless, fruit-bearing tree! Is there still sin in me? Are there strains in my relationships? Absolutely, but Christ is renewing my faith in Him in such a way that circumstances no longer cripple me. My assurance is in the Lord’s ability, not my own. I recognize that I am merely human and will fail. But I anticipate the Father’s grace in those moments. He is the only perfectly trustworthy One and my heart can rest in Him. This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
Aszia Walker is the Discipleship and Outreach Director at pureHOPE in Dallas, TX.