These little babies are about three inches tall but already exhibit the toughness of desert plants. How they find nourishment while clinging to a stark boulder, I have no idea. But that’s what desert shrubs do, they eek out an existence in a stony, saline sahara. The wiry wonders have long roots able to find traces of water. Their thick stems store water so that in drought they look inside for resources. Having a minimal number of small, waxy leaves helps them to conserve water. These are the tough survivors of the plant kingdom, standing tall under harsh conditions. If they were humans, we would admire them—independent, tenacious, proud, willing to persevere for years with little reward, perhaps a little thorny and joyless (understandable considering their situation). Men are the most easily impressed by such qualities.
But wait! Although there are elements worthy of admiration in the list, Jeremiah uses desert plants as a picture of a life without blessing.
Thus says the Lord,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the Lord.
For he will be like a bush in the desert
And will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
A land of salt without inhabitant.” (Jer. 17:5-6)
God’s intention for His people is pictured as an oasis tree, lush and constantly yielding fruit. Spiritual desert dwellers do not enjoy an abundant life; self-sufficiency, vulnerability to spiritual erosion and sparse fruit production are symptoms of ill-health. Pride is still a deadly sin.
Which describes your life? Are you lush and fruitful or toughing it out in survival mode, perhaps after the climate of your life suddenly changed? Now you rarely fruit. God longs to meet you and shower blessings on you.
Jeremiah diagnoses the disease and prescribes an antidote. The root of the problem is misdirected trust. When we make flesh our strength instead of God, we cut ourselves off from a ready supply of divine resources. Relying on human abilities, strengths, and wisdom is a sad second best. There is no need to delve inside ourselves when God is a consistently abundant source. Turn to Him.
If you would like to receive these Bible devotions by e-mail, please sign up and look for the confirmation message (we will not spam, or share your information).