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Lessons through Hardship

Lessons through Hardship


Jeremiah 17:5-17

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,

    who draws strength from mere flesh

    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;

    they will not see prosperity when it comes.

They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,

    in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

    whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

    that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

    its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

    and never fails to bear fruit.”

The heart is deceitful above all things

    and beyond cure.

    Who can understand it?

10 

“I the Lord search the heart

    and examine the mind,

to reward each person according to their conduct,

    according to what their deeds deserve.”

11 

Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay

    are those who gain riches by unjust means.

When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them,

    and in the end they will prove to be fools.

12 

A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning,

    is the place of our sanctuary.

13 

Lord, you are the hope of Israel;

    all who forsake you will be put to shame.

Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust

    because they have forsaken the Lord,

    the spring of living water.

14 

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;

    save me and I will be saved,

    for you are the one I praise.

15 

They keep saying to me,

    “Where is the word of the Lord?

    Let it now be fulfilled!”

16 

I have not run away from being your shepherd;

    you know I have not desired the day of despair.

    What passes my lips is open before you.

17 

Do not be a terror to me;

    you are my refuge in the day of disaster.

Jeremiah prophesied in a fragmented culture. There were huge blocks of powered positions that opposed one another- much like in our culture. 

1. We all have trust in something 

Bob Dylan:  “You’ve got to serve somebody…”. 

“Every person on the face of the earth is making a high stake life commitment to a particular faith view about God.” – Blaise Pascal 

Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it God or something else—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.”  (David Foster Wallace)

2. Where we place our trust is of ultimate importance 

False beliefs have great consequences.  Sincerity is not the key, what you believe is the key.  You can be sincerely wrong. 

Modern people say we all have to determine truth for ourselves.  Harowitz- Philosopher at Duke.  Every culture before our culture believed that right or wrong was determined outside of ourselves.  They said we have to harmonize with it.  We are the first culture that believes expressive individualism that says it is determined by what you find in your own consciousness. When an American tells you “you must think for yourself.” Yo are not thinking of yourself at all, it is a western, tribal white European way of thinking.”  And when you say, “every person must think of themselves.” That is a particular worldview and yo are saying your view is right and everyone else is wrong.  Every expression of doubt is an expression of faith.  

The difference between religious people and secularist is that secularists don’t admit they are expressing faith.  

Jeremiah says the human heart is trusting in something and that something is of ultimate importance. 

3. Our tendency is to put our trust in the wrong things

The heart is deceitful above all things

   and beyond cure.

Who can understand it?

Wherever you put your trust that is not in God, it will distort you and ruin you.

That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;

    they will not see prosperity when it comes.

They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,

    in a salt land where no one lives. (6-7)

It is virtually impossible for us to put our trust in God.  Our hearts are so inlined to evil.  Augustine reflected on stealing pears –not because he was hungry or liked them, but because someone said “don’t go in there…”.  HE realized there was a voice “my will not mine be done.”  HE realized that something from the outside would have to come and rescuer him- he would need to be born again.  

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” (C.s. Lewis)  

4. We need a radical solution 

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

    whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

    that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

    its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

    and never fails to bear fruit.” (Verses 7-8)

Our very nature is to trust in other things.  Our solution must be radical. We stop trusting other things and put our trust in the Lord. 

Imagine riding in a speedboat on a lake with an automatic pilot set to go east. If you decide to reverse and head west, you have two possible ways to change the boat’s direction.

One way is to grab the steering wheel and physically force it to head in the opposite direction from where the autopilot is programmed to go. By sheer willpower you could overcome the autopilot, but you would feel constant resistance. Your arms would eventually tire of the stress, you’d let go of the steering wheel, and the boat would instantly head back east, the way it was internally programmed.

This is what happens when you try to change your life with willpower: You say, “I’ll force myself to eat less . . . I’ll exercise more . . . I’ll quit being disorganized and late.”

Yes, willpower can produce short-term change, but it also creates constant internal stress because you haven’t dealt with the root cause. The change doesn’t feel natural, so eventually you give up and quickly revert to your old patterns.

There is a better way- radical change: Change your autopilot. Change the way you think! The Bible says, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2b NLT, second edition).

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

The New Testament calls this mental shift repentance, which in Greek literally means “to change your mind.” You repent whenever you change the way you think by adopting how God thinks: about yourself, sin, God, other people, life, your future, and everything else. You take on Christ’s outlook and perspectives.

Let’s make it practical:  

“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. . . Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”  (Philippians 4:6, 8b New Living Bible)

Four ways to trust God in my every day walk with Him:

1. Worry about nothing. 

Why is worry such a big deal? Because it’s not just a bad habit. It’s a flat out sin! But God keeps his promises, and you can trust that he will take care of you. 'Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today' (Matthew 6:34 NLT)."

2. Pray about everything. 

Prayer can change things. Romans 8:32 says, 'He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?' (NIV) God solved your biggest problem — getting into Heaven — when he sent Jesus to die for you. If God loved you enough to send Jesus to die for you, don’t you think he loves you enough to take care of all these other problems?

3. Thank God in all things. 

No matter what happens, give thanks. The Bible doesn’t say, 'For all things give thanks.' It says, 'In all things give thanks.' You don’t have to be thankful for bad things in your life. You should never be thankful for evil. You don’t have to be thankful for cancer or a car accident or war or abuse. But God says in everything give thanks. Why? Because you know that God’s going to take care of you. You know he’s going to meet your needs. You know he’s going to help you."

4. Think about the right things. 

God gives us a list of things to think about, things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise."

Maybe you are thinking- I can’t do these things in my own power.  You are right!  You can’t.  You need a change in management.  Look at the passage again:

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;

    save me and I will be saved,

    for you are the one I praise. (Verse 14)

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean that everyone is putting their trust in something?
  2. What happens when we fail to place our trust in God?
  3. Jeremiah says that the important thing is where you put your roots- what do you believe he meant by that?
  4. Why is the person who trusts in the Lord like someone who has roots planted by a river of water?


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