Over the past couple years I’ve had a lot of time to consider topics most of us would rather avoid. Topics like death, suffering, and how unfair life is.
It began when my grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and the tragedies continued for what felt like forever. While life spiralled out of control, my grandmother’s example helped me discovered a remarkable peace I find difficult to explain.
At the time I had been reading the book of Colossians every day, and was overwhelmed with the concept of how to find peace no matter your circumstances. I always thought peace was something you achieved over time—you grow to accept your circumstances and make peace with them. But that’s not what my grandmother demonstrated. She had for real, immediate peace. There was no coming to terms or period of mourning. She was content and at peace with whatever God put in her path.
After some pondering I think I know her secret—deep roots. There are many garden metaphors in Scripture but the one in Jeremiah 17:7-8 speaks to me in particular.
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
I realize these deep roots of faith don’t just happen. They are planted, watered, fertilized, nurtured, grown, tended, pruned, and cultivated over a lifetime. And this comes from a healthy and growing relationship with Jesus, prayer, and regular Bible study.
A friend of mine is reading through the book of Jeremiah and she painted the most wonderful image of the prophet for me. I’ve always seen him as a whiner but she “respectfully disagreed” with me. She said he followed God with all his heart, and did whatever was asked of him. For Jeremiah this meant spending much of his life in isolation and facing endless ridicule and rejection. As a response Jeremiah spilled his heart out to God—the good and the bad. In return God did not shame him or tell him he was only supposed to think happy thoughts. No, God spoke to him, and gave him comfort.
When facing tragedy or enduring long months of drought, it’s easy to shut down and go through the motions until you don’t feel so vulnerable. Instead, take a page from Jeremiah and give it to God—tell Him everything (He knows it anyway) and trust Him to water your soul. Because that’s how you grow deep roots. That’s how you find peace when it doesn’t make sense.
Trust me, it will happen.