If you can't race against men, how can you race against horses?
I, you, we don’t like when we’re hit with a challenge. We don’t like when bad seasons befall us- job loss, a relationship we wanted fails, mistreatment, a business deal goes bad, betrayal, rejection, we lose our home, or a friendship goes sour.
In the midst of life’s storms I cling to Psalm 121, James 1: 2-4, Romans 8:28, and Jeremiah 29:11. I’m coming to the end of a challenging season of my life and while I was clinging to the above verses last weekend, God directed me to read Psalm 1. I know this verse well, as I memorized it few years ago. But, verse 3 really jumped out at me:
…They [the Godly] are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (NLT)
A while later I was reading in Jeremiah and my eyes were locked to 12:8:
…“If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan? (NLT)
And when I got to chapter 17, my eyes were locked onto verse 8, which shared the same language as Psalm 1:8:
…They [the Godly] are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. (NLT)
In this life we will have trials, loss and pain. Jesus assured us of that in John 16:33. No one gets a free pass of pain in life. And we won’t always get a full synopsis from God on why we’re hit with pain and challenge. But, in the midst of my challenge, if I can’t handle this heat, how can God take me higher. How can God grow us if we can’t handle the perils of the season of life we’re in?
Jeremiah was a prophet of God and he felt the heat in his day. He tried to warn the people to turn from their wicked ways or suffer a Babylonian invasion. They didn’t like his message and some even tried to kill him. Jeremiah found himself questioning God about wicked men, to which God basically asked Jeremiah in chapter 17, verse 8- how he could expect to go further in his leadership role as a prophet if he couldn’t race with the naysayers and the people that were trying to kill him. How could he make it in the thickets near the Jordan if he couldn't run with men, God asked?
In some of life’s challenges God is trying to toughen us up so we can handle the thickets near the Jordan. If we can’t handle the difficulties in our current position, how can we handle a promotion?
Let us not mistake an intermission (a loss, a pain, a challenging season) for an ending. Let us not underestimate God’s creative love for us [His people]- His ability to bring something very good from something very bad.
God is interested in growing our roots deep down in the ground like trees that are planted near water, whose roots reach way down into the earth. Trees not planted near water, their roots do not go down as deep as trees that are planted near water. So, if a storm comes, trees planted near water will not be easily tossed about. For if our roots- our resistance, our tolerance, our ability to fight through pain and challenge, can endure- then we will bear fruit in the right season and our leaves will not wither, whatever we do shall prosper, and we will thrive in the thickets of the floodplain of the Jordan.
Let God have His way with you. Trust Him for we will reap if we faint not (Galatians 6:9). We must resolve to let Him have His way with us in challenges, in pain, and in loss. Trust that God is working out something beautiful in the midst of your suffering.
Happy Friday xx!