by Kathy Sinclair
One of the things I love about God’s word is that it is full of divine promises. They are not just vague platitudes, or uplifting comments that you might read on social media, but rather powerful and true promises to apply and live by as we journey on through life. At the start of a new year, full of - well nobody knows quite what it will be full of! One of God’s promises that I have been thinking about comes from the prophet Jeremiah 17: 7-8. Here, God promises that the person who trusts in him and whose confidence is in him will be blessed – and a beautiful picture is given of such a person being like a tree planted by water, its unseen roots go down deep into the stream, so that when the summer comes and the heat is turned up, the tree is still flourishing with green leaves and it won’t stop bearing fruit. The tree has no need to fear.
I love that promise and I really enjoy the visual picture of the tree given to illustrate it. How can we apply this promise to our own lives at the start of another year? It’s important to note that this promise is given after God has warned that the person who relies on their own strength, or who looks to other people above the Lord, will be like a wasteland (Jeremiah 17:5-6) – we have a choice. The flourishing tree reflects Jeremiah’s own life, he looked to the Lord and was sent by him to the people of Judah, to warn them that they were relationally bankrupt with God, urging them to turn back and make the better choice to put God first, so they too could flourish and enjoy his blessing.
It was a tough and unwanted message to bring and Jeremiah spent 40 years reaching out to the people as “The weeping prophet”. On the surface, it doesn’t seem that his circumstances were very congenial at all. He probably didn’t feel like a flourishing tree when he was thrown into the cistern! However – and here is the great reminder for us, Jeremiah knew what mattered, he believed that God was the giver and sustainer of life. He knew and experienced God being personally active on his behalf, saving him from his enemies. When the heat came, he was not burned up. Perhaps most important of all, Jeremiah knew God to be love (Jeremiah 31:3).
Jeremiah did flourish, but his life was tough. I don’t think he would have been surprised that God humbled himself and came in the person of Jesus – who also had a difficult time as he continued the message of calling people back to the Lord and receiving his blessing in their lives.
This year, let’s choose to be those that trust in the Lord, who demonstrate our confidence in him by seeking to be in close relationship with him, letting Jesus colour all our relationships. Like Jeremiah did, let’s acknowledge where life and circumstances are tough and rejoice when they are good - because God is in it all! His great heart of love is for us to flourish in 2024, as we look to him in all things, so we can be a forest of beautiful, fruitful trees reflecting his glory. Choose blessing!
Kathy Sinclair is the BWAA Church Relationship Manager in Western Australia. Kathy joined Baptist World Aid in January 2019. She comes to the role having spent 11-years on staff at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Western Australia, as the Children and Families Pastor. In more recent years, she also held responsibility for overseeing the church’s mission ministry. Kathy has been a speaker for Christian Women Communicating Internationally (CWCI) for several years, where she enjoys the privilege of travelling around Western Australia to teach God’s word. She enjoys visiting church communities to share about the work of Baptist World Aid and how individuals and congregations can respond effectively to God’s heart for the poor and needy. Kathy is married to Mark and has two children and a daughter-in-law.