Be-Har & Be-Hukkotai
For the week of May 16, 2009 / 22 Iyar 5769
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 25:1 - 27:34
Haftarah: Jeremiah 16:19 - 17:14
Are You Well Rooted?
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7,8; ESV)
Most of the time you can't tell how people are doing just by looking at them. While some people are better at hiding their struggles than others, it seems that most people are pretty good at it. I continue to be surprised at some of the horrific things people go through in life and the amount of unresolved trauma that haunts them. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me due to my own hardships, but like many others, I have tended to think that my negative experiences have been unique to me rather than seeing them as the common plight of human beings. I know that not everyone goes through extreme traumatic experiences, but they are far more common than we may admit.
While trouble and trauma are common human experiences, God did not design us to face such things on our own. Rather he has availed himself to us by providing sustenance for those times when our own resources are completely depleted. The picture painted through the prophet Jeremiah is that of a tree whose roots are driven down deep into a fresh water source. Whatever might be going on above ground, the tree's nourishment is derived from that rich underground source. That which determines the health and strength of the tree is hidden from view, yet it is the tree's secure connection to this life source that enables it to withstand the harsh realities above the surface.
So it is for those who trust in God. Trusting in God is not simply fulfilling religious rituals or spouting a creed. It isn't based on your parents' supposed faith or some decision or experience you have had in the past. Trusting in God is a continuous giving of one's life to God in such a way that you accept his forgiveness and salvation through his provision of the Messiah, and allow him to determine the course of your life by following his directives. Trusting in God is not a passive state of non-engagement with the realities of life. On the contrary, it is a cooperation with God as he desires to drive your roots deep down into himself so that you will be able to withstand all that he is leading you to face in life.
The picture of the healthy tree flourishing in the midst of harsh circumstances is contrasted to those who trust in people, whether themselves or others (see 17:5,6). With no connection to a nourishing life source, like a shrub in the desert, this person is blown away when hardships come.
Though we often try, we cannot control our circumstances. Harsh circumstance are common to the human experience. Yet, we were not designed to face these things alone, left to our own meager resources. God intends that we should live our lives dependent on him. Moreover, the person who trusts in God is called "blessed." This is not about mere survival in hard times, it is about flourishing - even being a resource to others - when everything around us seeks to suck us dry.
Access to God's nourishing resources is available to anyone who puts their trust in him through Yeshua the Messiah. But perhaps this is something that you have done, yet you seem to be more like the dry shrub than the flourishing tree. Your willingness to admit it is your first step to effectively connecting with God's life-giving resources. Perhaps you have been trusting in yourself and others more than in him. Ask God to drive your roots down deep until you know his refreshing, life-giving nourishment.
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