When we get on an airplane, we trust the pilot knows how to fly (and land) the craft, that he’s skilled, and that he’s capable of handling things should an emergency arise.
When we go for surgery, we trust the doctor knows how to perform the procedure, that he’s trained, and that he’s able to handle things should something unexpected happen.
In both scenarios, we trust other people to get us to our destination or to fix our medical problems.
Nevertheless, airplanes crash and medical errors occur. Sometimes people get injured or worse. Men and women are imperfect and prone to make mistakes.
God, however, is perfect and never errs. Many, though, refuse to trust him and, instead, trust other feeble men.
Man’s notoriously unreliable and will fail. God is wholly reliable and always does what is right. I like how Tourniquet said it in their song, “Broken Chromosomes”: “Men fail me, but the Son of God saves!”
As I read Jeremiah 17, God was teaching me about trust. His question was singular: who do you trust? That’s what I want to talk about in this article.
Here’s the passage:
5 Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
8 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 17:5-8 (ESV)
In this passage we have a stark contrast between trusting man (including ourselves) and trusting God. While I’ve talked about this topic before by looking at two ways to live life, in this passage Jeremiah describes the results of where we place our trust.
Men Fail Me . . .
Ever put your trust in someone only to be let down? It hurts, especially when it’s a relative.
The sad reality is that men and women will fail us, and we will fail those who trust us. Why? Because we’re imperfect, finite beings.
We don’t understand everything. We don’t know what the future holds. We can’t imagine every possible outcome (even Dr. Strange saw only 14 million out of an infinite number of possibilities in Infinity War). We’re not all-powerful. We’re also far from perfect; we make mistakes and do wrong. We have limited knowledge and limited abilities and are prone to err.
Thus, we’re prone to break the trust of others, and others are prone to break our trust. Trusting man is risky.
Jeremiah described trusting man like a tree in the desert. Oh, it may have some life to it, but it doesn’t flourish and bloom as much as others. When the environment gets hotter and more uninhabitable, the plant is prone to wither.
This type of life is one of daily uncertainty. Hope is fleeting and the future is unknown. When life gets even harder, we’re prone to sink into anxiety, depression, and hurt. That’s not the life we’re called to live. God loves you and has a better plan for our lives.
. . . but the Son of God Saves
After describing the man who trust other people for all their needs, Jeremiah details what it looks like to trust God for our needs. Again, he uses a plant to make his point.
The prophet says that the person who trusts God is like a plant near water. It gets refreshment, nourishments, and blooms. That plant, though, will go through climatic changes. Temperatures will rise and fall, there will be droughts and rains. But in those tough times, the plant continues to grow.
This is the life God wants for us. This is a life of hope, certainty, and confidence. It’s not necessarily a life of material wealth. God’s not saying, “Trust me and you’ll never be poor.” Rather, he’s saying, “Trust me and you’ll never be hopeless and alone.”
Yes, sometimes we can feel let down by God. We may wonder why he did this or that, allowed certain bad things to happen, or why he failed to answer our pleas. There may be times when it seems God fails us because he didn’t live up to our standards or abide by our wishes. Remember, though, that he knows more than us, sees more than us, and does what is right. We may not understand it, but we’re finite, feeble creatures; he is the infinite, perfect creator.
Bringing it Home
Trusting God doesn’t mean you’ll never have doubts, difficulties, or fears. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never struggle in life. Rather, trusting God means you have someone with you who already knows the outcome. You’ll have someone to turn to when you need him.
So, after reading this passage, I want to ask the question God asked me: who do you trust?