Staying Rooted When Life is Messy
Updated: Nov 9, 2019
Instead of running away from your problems, what if you stood stronger?
Let’s be honest. Life doesn’t always end up the way we imagine. But how we respond when life gets messy shows more about our character than we might realize. What does God’s Word have to say about responding to disappointment and how we can be firmly rooted in the unchangeable God?
Do you remember that part in Snow White when the Evil Witch curses Snow White? I never really liked Snow White because the skulls, bubbling and boiling cocktails of “curse juice” and poisoned apples kind of freaked me out.
This is what the Lord says:“Cursed is the one who trusts in man…
Read that again.
…who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. Jeremiah 17:5-6
Have you ever felt like your life is cursed?
Maybe you started out early in life with a relationship that didn’t go well and then when that fell apart, you picked up with another one that ended up not going well, and you can see how the same things keep happening in your relationships as an adult. And you might think, “Ugh! It must be me! I must be cursed!”
Well, let me first say something very clear. Curses don’t travel from generation to generation. 1 Peter 1:18 says that “you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,” and that you were made new “with the precious blood of Christ.” (verse 19) So, we may learn a lot from our families, but you aren’t condemned to repeat the same sins your parents or grandparents made.
But look at this verse, it does say you are “cursed” if what? If you trust in man.
What does that look like for us today? What does it mean to trust in man?
We trust in man when we’re single and we say, “Oh, if I just had a husband, then I would be happy…..” That’s literally putting your trust in man.
And then that happened, and we realize, wow, there’s no loneliness like the loneliness of a married woman, right? To be right there, living life, day after day with someone, eating the same food, sleeping beside each other, and still feeling that emptiness of being utterly lonely. That’s because we trusted in man.
So then we thought, “Oh, if I had kids, then our marriage would be better. I would have more purpose in life. Those little people would adore me and write me beautiful Mother’s Day cards every year.” And for some of you, those kids have grown up, broken your heart, and not only don’t write Mother’s Day cards, but they say some really hurtful things. Their decisions have real consequences in your life and what they say digs deeply. And as you sift through the pain our kids can cause, ask yourself, “Did I put my trust in them?” They’re only humans. The verse says you’re cursed (or you’re doomed) if you put your trust in them.
Maybe it’s an employer. You think he has the means to make your life easier and more comfortable, to give you purpose by letting you do what you love.
Or a new president that you’ve decided is going to change your country to fit with the ideals and convictions that you have.
Or a builder or a landlord who was going to help you get the house you’d always dreamed of having.
But when we have our eyes fixed on something on earth to give us purpose, it’s going to disappoint. It says you are “cursed” for putting your hope in that.
Because you know what? Even if you get the husband you wanted, the perfect kids, the job that makes you feel important, “your guy” becomes president, and you live in the “right” house….life will disappoint you.
It rains day after day.
There’s always something you can’t afford.
Friends get cancer.
People lie to you.
A colleague at work stabs you in the back.
And it hurts.
And let me tell you, you are allowed to grieve those losses. We take our pain to Christ and we turn to Him when we’re at the bottom and all of our hopes have run out, but you also have to ask yourself, “Was I trusting in man or was I trusting in God?”
I’ve decided disappointment is my least favorite emotion. There’s nothing like having something in your head about what is going to happen or how someone is going to respond, only to be disappointed. But what is disappointment really? It’s putting your trust in something and then it not coming to pass. Isn’t that what Jeremiah is talking about — cursed is the man who trusts in man.
Let’s keep going…
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
It’s so easy for our hearts to turn away from the Lord. If you look down at verses 9-10, it says
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
We have to be really humble when we look at ourselves and try to evaluate whether we are trusting in God or man. Our hearts are deceitful!
I’m often doing good things that I think are going to make God like me more, forgetting that there’s nothing I can do that earns me God’s favor. Nothing. I’m not sitting down to study my Bible because that makes me on “God’s team” and He’ll listen to me.
I was His enemy.
And without Jesus covering me, I would still be His enemy. So I read my Bible to learn more about who He is and it tells me about who I am, and with His grace, I change and I grow to look more and more like Him, but He saved me not because I can settle down and study my Bible. Romans 5:8 says that while I was still a God-hating sinner, He saved me. And I don’t get “more saved” as I become sanctified (made holy). God saved me entirely on His own.
So, any time we’re doing something that we think is going to make us closer to God, we’re misunderstanding the gospel and our hearts are trusting in man [ourselves] and turning away from God.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes.They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.
Someone was describing this verse and said, “He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.”
In the church we’re in, there are a lot of us that have a hard time answering the question, “Where are you from?” And the idea of having roots is a tough one.
The holidays are right here around the corner. We see all the commercials of families sitting around the table together and slicing a huge turkey with the people you love. But for many of us, that’s not what it’s going to look like for us, right? And as much as we try to decorate and go shopping for things that we think will make us happy, we know that it could be better. The idea of having roots really appeals to me. I don’t want to be rootless.
So, what’s the good news? How do we turn these bleak reports that hold up a mirror to our lives into good news?
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
What does it mean to be blessed? To be favored. Think for a moment about what it would be like for a father to favor one of his daughters. That’s what it’s saying here; if you trust in the Lord, He favors you.
Another word for blessed is happy. The woman who trusts in the Lord is happy.
whose confidence is in Him.
Notice how it doesn’t say to have our confidence in ourselves. When we start realizing that trusting in man doesn’t work, we have a natural tendency to try to be self-reliant, to push others away, to take care of ourselves. But, don’t forget — we’re human, too. And it said we can’t trust in man. So our confidence here is in the Lord.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
This is a sturdy tree. You can picture it, right? The whole world is flying by and the big heavy tree, with deep roots into the stream, doesn’t budge. That’s the woman that trusts in the Lord.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He is the source for living water.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, [1 Jn. 4:16–God is love] may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
It does not fear when heat comes;
Let me tell you — the heat will come. James tells us we will face trials of many kinds. 1 Peter says “don’t be surprised when trials come as though something strange is happening to you.” (4:12) All of those circumstances we talked about earlier, can still happen — the husband disappoints, the kids rebel, you lose the job, your friend gets cancer — but this verse says, “you do not fear when the heat comes.”
Fear is one of my biggest sin struggles. I don’t tend to fear crazy made-up things, but it’s the real life scenarios happening around me make me worry a lot. So, I have fought really hard against fear and let me tell you — it’s a conscious effort to stop your mind from racing to fear and to trust God during the heat. I lay in bed sometimes at night as I think of what’s going on at work, or the rash of crime we’ve had in our neighborhood lately, and I repeat over and over Isaiah 26:3—
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Let’s keep reading:
its leaves are always green.
What do green leaves represent? Growth! It hasn’t let the bitterness towards the heat choke out the life of her leaves. They are blooming and growing, giving life to others.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.) Ephesians 4:31-32
It has no worries in a year of drought
Again here, drought is not something that you get to skip because you’re doing all the right things. God still allows the effects of the Fall (death, sickness, pain) to touch us. It doesn’t say, this tree always gets the rains of blessing. The drought still came. But this tree doesn’t worry.
and never fails to bear fruit.”
What kind of fruit do we want our lives to show? More importantly, what kind of fruit does God look for? Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a list: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Those are the things you can look for. Look at that list. Are you a loving person? A joyful person? A peaceful woman?
The promise is that you will never fail to bear fruit if your roots are in the stream — if you trust Him.
What would a favored (“blessed”) daughter of the King receive? Gifts that only He can give — love, joy, peace, — things that last much more than those first things we were hoping in.
Here’s the gospel:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4–5 (ESV)
You can’t do this on your own. Apart from Jesus we can’t trust God.
How do you know if you’re trusting in the Lord? By how you respond to the heat and drought.
So, we call out to God—we tell Him that without Him, we are weak, dried up tumbleweed blowing in the desert, but that we desire to be women of great faith. We will trust in Him and Him alone, not ourselves, not man, and then He answers!
Let’s do that now.