“They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.” Psalm 1:3
One of the most powerful images of scripture is that of a tree planted by a stream. A tree that always has enough, because its source of life and nurture is near. Even in times of drought, roots of that tree search deep into the earth finding what it needs . . . to not only survive, but thrive as it draws in nutrients from the soil.
Both the prophet Jeremiah and the Psalmist use the tree as a symbol of the faithful who stands in the face of a storm. One who is able to bend with the winds and find life-giving nourishment even encased in drought. Beyond being faithful, such a one has a radical trust in God. That person rests in the assurance God is working in their lives, in spite of challenges they are facing.
When I think of people whose roots are deeply planted, I think of my cousin Don. Confronted with constant pain, cancer and economic stress, he would tell us that “God is good.” He saw God’s hand at work in his life through the generosity of friends, compassion of caregivers, and as he dwelt in the presence of God. While the outward expressions of his life faded away . . . Inwardly he drew strength from roots grown deep through prayer and journeying with the God who loved him fiercely. There he found life-giving water that sustained him through his worst days. In my last conversation with him, he continued to tell me, “God has been so good.” Blessed indeed are those “Whose trust is the Lord.”
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8