“Oh Lord my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction.” Jeremiah 16:19a
The Lord has not promised you a life free from trials if you choose to follow Him. But He has promised to be your “strength, fortress, and refuge” in the trial.
This was so true for Jeremiah that these became God’s names to him – Strength, Fortress, Refuge. Jeremiah had learned that he could not endure his afflictions, trials, persecutions, and hardships alone. He had to depend on God’s strength. So must we.
The word for “strength” there means, “power and security”. That is mental, emotional, and physical.
A fortress is a stronghold. Impenetrable. Positioned on high ground so you can see your enemy coming and have the advantage.
And a refuge is a place to hide.
Jeremiah went on to write in crystal clarity what a person’s life will look like who does not trust in the Lord in their trials but in their own strength.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.’” Jeremiah 17:5,6 NLT
What a horrible description of a person’s life! It’s even hard to read. “Stunted shrubs…no hope…barren…” And how did they get in this condition? By “turning their hearts away from the Lord.” But what does that mean?
It does not mean that they necessarily stopped loving the Lord, but rather when times got tough, they depended on their own human strength to get them through. They “white-knuckled” it. They doubled down. They depended on sheer will-power to push through.
Is that you? If so, what is it costing you – your health, relational strife, spiritual bareness, you joy and peace? It is not worth it, and it is not necessary. The Lord has provided another way for you. Thank God Jeremiah went on to describe what a person’s life would look like if he or she trusted in the Lord in their trial.
“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.’” Jeremiah 17:5-8 NLT
Aren’t you thankful Jeremiah didn’t stop with the description of the person who does not trust in the Lord in their affliction?
Look at the difference between the first- and second-person’s life: “stunted shrubs…no hope…barren desert…”, verses “planted by the riverbank, not anxious in hard times, healthy and always fruitful.”
As you go through trials, know that sometimes it is simply part of living in a fallen, broken world. Don’t spend too much time asking why – though there might be a reason that He will reveal to you. But if He doesn’t, just focus on His faithfulness. If you will, He too will become your strength, fortress, and refuge.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:18
THINK ABOUT IT
- Do you find yourself depending on your own strength at times? When you catch yourself doing that, what can you do to turn to the Lord and trust Him in your trial?
- Will you memorize Jeremiah 17:5-8? Memorizing Scripture will be a huge help in learning to trust the Lord. The Holy Spirit will bring the Scriptures you memorize to your mind when you need them most!