BEND OR BREAK AND SURVIVE OR SUFFOCATE … WHICH WILL YOU DO IN THE STORMS AND DROUGHTS OF LIFE?
There is no doubt that there are periods of storms as well as periods of drought in our lives. The key to how well we will weather these situations is dependent upon where we have placed our trust and faith before they ever appear. Many of our (mine and Dorothy’s) friends know a couple who survived a plethora of storms just during their first year of marriage … The young groom not only had two heart attacks (one six months into the marriage and another one 6 months later) that should have killed him but also dealt with a series of surgeries to remove skin cancer. It was quite a trying year to say the least. Had they not agreed that God would be first in their marriage, the grounding influence and the base of their marriage, they most certainly could not have made it past their first anniversary!
Proverbs tells us “What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted. When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” This verse is giving us an understanding that the wicked have turned away from God and as a result are vulnerable to trials and tribulations in life because they have nothing securely anchoring themselves to anything. On the other hand, the righteous (those that have a “right relationship” with God) will desire the things of God and for this reason they are securely anchored to Him and His ways.
Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet in a very undesirable time. He was directed by God to convey a tough message, a message of harsh criticism rather than salvation, to the Children of Israel due to their disobedience and rebellion. To make things worse, God told Jeremiah that the people would refuse to listen to him. Once again God’s plan proves to be perfect and right on time (as it always is) because He called Jeremiah to be not only also a priest but a prophet at an early age. In the first chapter of Jeremiah it describes how God had “ordained him as a prophet to the nations – to pluck, tear down, and build again… Jeremiah provides an example of a leader who continued in tough times through the supernatural work of God. Divine conviction drove him, along with a divine compassion and a divine call.” The ministry verse of ThunderHeart Ministries is taken from the book of Jeremiah and states “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” Our desire as a ministry is to live our lives in such a way that it clearly demonstrates our trust in the Lord as well as the fact that He is the only true hope that exists.
With the assignment given to Jeremiah, he often had to draw analogies — to try and get God’s people to see through different “word pictures” what God was telling them … what the cost would be if they continued to live the way they had chosen. He tells the people “This is what the Lord says: ‘What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’ I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.”
OUCH! Strong words and clearly God is very unhappy with the people. The Psalmist states it this way “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” Proverbs tells us “What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted. When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Even Job had something to say on this topic when he replied “the wicked are no longer remembered but are broken like a tree.”
Later in Chapter 17, Jeremiah gives us two drastically different descriptions. The first is the man that is not trusting in God but he relies on man’s answers on how to weather the storms and droughts of life. Jeremiah states “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.” Many have fallen into the trap of “self-sufficiency” and look for “people” answers rather than looking to God for answers. Because they have turned their hearts from God they are described as being spiritually like a bush in the wasteland. This describes something that is not well grounded and subject to being easily uprooted and blown around without direction or control. Placing our trust and faith in others leads our hearts to reflect an image of dwelling in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. I believe this is a description of desolation, isolation, loneliness, and something that is easily broken when faced with life’s challenges. In fact, this person is likely to be moving from one storm or drought to another with little to no understanding of why they find themselves in the same or similar circumstances. Without a compass we have no direction because without a map the compass is of little value. And without a supply source for sustenance we cannot fight off the challenges of battling the tumult and the famines that life will most certainly bring our way. Under these circumstances a person is much more likely to break under the pressures of these times instead of relying on the true source of strength and resilience that gives us the ability to withstand the storm or drought no matter how significant they may seem.
In the second description Jeremiah says “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.” Quite a different picture isn’t it? I love the word picture that Jeremiah gives of when I am trusting in the Lord and my confidence is in Him, and Him alone, I am like a tree planted by the water! If you have ever seen a tree planted by a body of water generally the root system is well developed and the tree is well grounded because of its elaborate root system. Because of the trees relationship to the provider (the water) then it is not threatened by heat, storm, or drought.
As Jeremiah said it “never fails to bear fruit.” Like this tree, you and I must be well rooted in our relationship with the Lord. Jesus said “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Just as a tree planted by the water depends on the water to meet its needs, we must take root in the Lord and rely on the living water to prepare us to bend but not break in the storms and droughts of life. When we are truly rooted in the Giver of Life then that relationship prepares us to withstand the winds, storms or droughts of life events we will surely be faced with. The fantastic part of this description from Jeremiah is that despite the circumstances, trials, tribulations, disturbances and whatever roadblocks we encounter, we will still bear fruit for the Lord!
So will you bend or will you break in the storms or droughts of life? The only way to be prepared for the many and varied forms of upheaval that may come our way is to be well rooted in our relationship with the Lord. We have unlimited access to the Living Water, Jesus Christ, and when we drink from the Living Water we will never thirst again. Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is like that tree planted by the water; we are prepared time and time again to weather the storm or survive the drought while always producing fruit for the Kingdom of God.
(By the way, the couple I mentioned at the beginning of the article that God so lovingly took care of, blessed so much with faith, and so mercifully healed so they could witness for Him … was Dorothy and me. God is SO GOOD!!!)
 Proverbs 10:24-25. All Scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
 The Maxwell Leadership Bible, Thomas Nelson Bibles, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2002, page 882-883
 Jeremiah 17:7 NKJV
 Jeremiah 2:5-7
 Psalm 1:1-6
 Proverbs 10:24-25
 Job 24:20b
 Jeremiah 17:5-6
 Jeremiah 17:7-8
 John 7:37b-38