My family’s roots are in Kansas. Yes, I know Kansas is considered by many as a “flyover state." I have heard most of the jokes about Kansas and may have even told a few myself. The state has a reputation of being flat, hot and humid and lacking in trees. For the most part, that is quite true.
However, we had trees in the small town where I grew up. Lots of trees, in fact. In our backyard we had wonderful trees — not the kind of stately trees we have in western Washington, but great, spreading trees. Their branches reached far and wide, their roots ran deep and strong.
As a child, those trees were for climbing. We climbed high up into the branches, played tree tag and scrambled from tree to tree. Those trees were a place of refuge during the hot, dry summer months.
Those trees are still standing today. They have weathered harsh winters, stood against the almost constant Kansas wind and, through it all, have faithfully shared their cool shade even during the most drought-stricken summers. I still look forward to sitting in their shade each time I visit.
Right now, our nation and our world are going through a major storm — a storm of illness that has swept around the world and, as of this writing, is still growing. There is a storm of lost jobs and economic buffeting that is happening such as most of us have never seen before. Panic buying has led to fights over toilet paper.
In the midst of this storm, a Bible verse caught my eye during my daily devotion time. It's found in Jer. 17:7–8:
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit."
During this storm of uncertainty, Jeremiah says we can be like the tree planted by the water with roots reaching down to the life-giving river. When we're connected to the Water of Life, we will be able to weather any storm.
The last line of this Bible passage says that, even when drought and heat come, the tree still bears fruit. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis we're promised that we can still successfully share Jesus with the people all around us who are anxious and troubled, without spiritual roots. We can be like Jeremiah's tree — a calming, anchoring force as we point people to Jesus.