Thriving in Difficult Seasons

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“Lord, I want to do more than just tolerate this season of life.”

As the prayer slipped from my lips, God brought to mind a familiar passage in Jeremiah.  I recalled the vivid imagery with which the Lord contrasted the fates of those who trust in people versus those who trust in Him.

“The man who trusts in man,” He explained, “is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.  He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”  On the other hand, “the man who trusts in the Lord…is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream” (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

The main point is clear: trusting in anyone or anything other than God causes us to wither away whereas trusting in the Lord nourishes and sustains.

What stood out to me most, though, was the next part of the verse.  The Lord added that the one who trusts in Him is like a tree that “does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” (17:8).

In other words, trusting in the Lord allows us to flourish in less-than-ideal conditions.  Notice that those who trust in God are likened to a tree that is fruitful in the midst of heat and drought, an indication that sustained fruitfulness is a reflection of where we are rooted, not necessarily the conditions around us.

Think through your present circumstances and identify those you would consider an inhibition to growth or vitality.  What conditions seem to pose a threat to fruitfulness?  A job?  A relationship?  Delayed dreams?  Is it possible you’ve fallen prey to the notion that what happens around you is more significant than the One who is at work in you?

I’m encouraged to know that every season of life doesn’t have to be my favorite.  Some seasons are harder and heavier than others.  Jess Connolly said it well: “Sometimes the best thing about a season is that it ends.”  Still, we don’t have to shrivel up until it’s over.

Thriving doesn’t mean we ignore life’s difficulties or downplay our struggles.  To thrive means that we acknowledge the conditions around us while trusting God to work in and through us.  By the grace of God, we can flourish in challenging seasons, whether that means getting out of bed in the morning, working hard alongside difficult coworkers, refusing to live in bitterness toward an estranged family member, or continuing to pray for a friend’s salvation.

As I’ve said before, those who place the whole weight of their confidence in God are blessed in experiencing His complete trustworthiness and utter sufficiency in every season.  The key to flourishing, then, isn’t easier circumstances, but expecting God to keep His promises.  Faith in God – believing and acting on His Word – invigorates us even when the conditions around us threaten to sap our vitality.  And when we draw our strength from Him, the heat and drought won’t be enough to keep us from thriving.

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