Have you ever noticed the predictions for the world’s future seem to be all negative? We’re told over-population will consume all the world’s resources, leaving it a harsh and barren planet. Or Global warming will make the planet uninhabitable as the oceans rise and the various doomsday scenarios are played out with changing weather patterns. Or artificial intelligence will supersede human development and take over the world enslaving the human population. Or some other disaster will befall us, and in every case the prime cause is said to humankind. Yep that’s right, for all the technological advances humankind have made, the breakthroughs in science and technology, the so-called advances in societal attitudes and structures, the doomsday prophets all point the finger at humankind. The more we think we can be God, the more we think we can be trusted to do things on our own, the bigger the mess we seem to make of it. Its of little wonder people’s trust in each other and the world humankind is creating is rapidly going out the back door.
But we know this to be true. Just think of the way we react to medical doctors these days. We get sick, and they take an educated guess at what it may be, and we don’t like the diagnosis or the doctor, so we go shopping for another who may tell us what we want to hear. Our once held trust that doctors know what they’re doing is slipping down the pole rapidly. In its place people are seeking alternative medicines, doctor Google or Facebook, or advice from trusted friends who have been through similar. In fact, that’s where trust really seems to be going. We tend to trust people we know well, and whom we like. Those we don’t like, always have the question of trust placed over their heads. And if the advice given doesn’t work, we don’t tend to abandon the people we like, but do tend to be a little wary of any further advice they may give. In the end, we seem to trust ourselves, and those we like, and the rest are questionable.
The problem is that trust in ourselves or other people is fickle and uncertain. When it gets tough, when the world comes crashing around our knees, when we struggle to find hope, looking to ourselves or our friends often leaves us like a “shrub in a desert” (vs 6). We end up wandering in the parched places of the wilderness and the uninhabitable salt lands (vs 6). Suicide is one of the biggest problems facing our society, and in every case, those contemplating self-harm, or have by some miracle survived a suicide attempt, describe their lives in this way. They end up in a place where they believe there is no hope, no love, no one who cares, no one they can trust, and death which lingers all around them seems the only friend they have left. The narcissistic individualism in which we are told that humankind is the master of all that is possible, is a lie, for when the trust disappears, and the deceptive isolation of the individualism we are told is self-empowering is fully revealed, we are left alone in a barren and hostile world. A world we created for ourselves.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Jeremiah, who knows what it is like to be alone, isolated, persecuted, bullied, and rejected, reminds us that trust in the Lord creates the direct opposite to this barren landscape. Trust in the Lord is like a tree planted by water that sends roots out into the stream (vs 8) and has no fear when the troubles of the world encroach. Despite everything done to Jesus, the rejection, the torture, the hate, and ultimately the cruel death of crucifixion, Jesus’ trust remained firmly in the Father. He knew that not even death could have the final say because God is Lord even over such things. The resurrection is testimony to the trust realised in Jesus, and freely offered to all who call on Jesus. Jesus himself reminds us that we can only come to the Father through Him (Jn 14:6), and by coming to Him, trusting in all He has done, and will do, the burdens of this life become light and insignificant (Mt 11:30). At the end of Revelation, Jesus declares open access to the waters of life that flow through the new heaven and new earth, from which the tree of life draws strength (Rev 22:2). The strength it draws is the message of hope and trust found only in Jesus.
No matter what happens in life, nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus (Rm 8:38-39). Trust in Him means we are never alone, isolated abandoned. In the dark night of the soul, He is the small glimmer of light reminding us we are not alone. Trusting in Jesus no matter what the world throws at you ensures that even in the darkest and most desolate moments of our lives, the leaves of hope and love remain green and full of life (vs 8). By clinging to Jesus when life is tough, we still bear fruit in amazing ways. Fruit that brings hope to a world that is desperate to find the trust they need to cope with the harsh realities of a life that has lost its way. The gift we give to the world is the certainty we have that in all things, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, and this trust we have brings hope and life to those in the barren landscape of our world.