Weekly Devotion 2-16-22

Weekly Devotion with Kim Wu

Sometimes you can’t help where you’ve been planted.

Your life is nothing like you thought it would be.  You’re still waiting for healing, while others are walking miracles.  Relationships you thought you could count on dissolve.  You feel like you’ve tried your best, but nothing seems to come together.  And the whole world seems like one big dumpster fire.

The image of the tree in Jeremiah 17 and in Psalm 1  – “a tree planted by streams of water” – is a beautiful one, but you just cannot relate to it.  And it feels unfair, that others seem to have it so easy, being planted right by the water.

I used to think trees were passive. The ones lucky enough to have access to water and a favorable climate were the ones that thrived.  Trees unfortunate enough to be planted in harsher weather conditions or that experienced droughts?  Their survival was less assured, and they weren’t the majestically tall trees that everyone admires.  Those that lived were more likely to be spindly and grotesquely misshapen.

But trees have an incredible capacity to adapt.

Peter Wohlleben, a German forester and author of “The Hidden Life of Trees,” has described the capacity of trees to make decisions based on memories.  (Yes, the author uses anthropomorphism, ascribing human characteristics to trees, but he does so to use language we can relate to more easily.)

“We had a heavy drought here. In subsequent years, the trees that had suffered through the drought consumed less water in the spring so that they had more available for the summer months. Trees make decisions. They can decide things. We can also say that a tree can learn, and it can remember a drought its whole life and act on that memory by being more cautious of its water usage.”

Even though we aren’t all planted by streams of water, we have the capacity to adapt and survive - even thrive - in our given environment.  It won’t always be easy, and progress certainly won’t be linear, but we can do this.

In both Jeremiah 17 and Psalm 1, we find the key to thriving is not where we are planted, but recognizing and abiding with the One who planted us there.  “But his delight in in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”  (Psalm 1:2)  “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”  (Jeremiah 17:7)

Kate Bowler, in her book, “Good Enough,” talks about God’s presence with us when we are in pain.  “This is God’s great magic act, in my opinion.  The more we suffer, the more we can’t get away from God’s insistent love.”

God’s love for us is written all over the pages of our Bibles. We just have to decide to receive it.

And when you do, you may find beauty in the ways you have been shaped by where you’ve been planted.

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