Blessed are those who trust in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of the drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.
Most of the time the prophet Jeremiah felt more cursed than blessed. He didnt want to be a prophet in the first place, protesting that he was too young and too inarticulate (1:5-8). He struggled for a lifetime with Gods call, even accusing God of overpowering him (20:7). Yet God continued to call Jeremiah, and this is how: Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. Jeremiah trusts in the Lord. He trusts that there is Someone to get angry with. He trusts that there is Someone to notice that hes a laughingstock. Over time that trust in the Lord becomes a trust that is the Lord. God is with this reluctant prophet. Again and again, Jeremiah speaks of his sense of Gods abiding presence: ...for I am with you to save you and deliver you, says the Lord (15:20); ...the Lord is with me like a dread warrior (20:11).
Disciples learn two things from Jeremiahs struggle. First, the prophet tunes our ears to the frequency of blessing. God calls us by blessing. We usually think God calls us by command: Go and do this.... Go and be that.... Jeremiahs calling is ours, and once we hear the biblical refrain of blessing, its like a song we cant forget. Hear it in Elizabeths greeting to her kinswoman Mary: Blessed are you among women... (Luke 1:42). Hear it Jesus first sermon, as he calls out his disciples: Blessed are the poor in spirit....; blessed are those who mourn...; blessed are the meek.... (Matthew 5:3-5). And we call God by blessing as well. Blessing is the psalmists way of getting Gods attention: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless Gods holy name (Psalm 108:1). In the world according to God, blessings rule.
Second, the prophet shows us how deep blessing anchors us. Whatever storms cross the surface, blessings let us cast a deep anchor in the heart of God. The prophet and the psalmist conspire to remind us: They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper (Psalm 1:3).
Martha E. Stortz teaches at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California.
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