I’ve been posting my notes from a Bible study session I taught on Losing Heart at my church’s women’s Bible study. The overall structure and theme of the study is based upon Paula Rinehart’s book, Strong Women, Soft Hearts. Last week we talked about what it means to lose heart and the journey by which that happens.
Now we’ll look at the consequence of losing heart. Continuing in our text, Jeremiah 17:5-8.
In verse 6, Jeremiah begins to paint a picture of the state of losing heart.
Let me share with you a little bit about some of the descriptors Jeremiah uses here.
For he will be like a bush in the desert
The bush he talks about is most likely a juniper – a short shrub with spikey, scale-like leaves that is difficult and prickly to handle. It is short and has a shallow root system, leaving it vulnerable to weather and animals.
As we know, the desert is a place that lacks an abundant supply of water. Water is essential to many functions within a plant. In addition to transporting food, water regulates the plants internal temperature. In fact, water pressure is even a factor in a plant being able to stand upright.
The picture Jeremiah paints here shows that in this state of a having a lost heart, we will be difficult to handle, prickly, and vulnerable (which is ironic, because that’s what we were trying NOT to be) and we will be dry.
And will not see when prosperity comes,
Sometimes when my daughter watches Dora the Explorer, about 5 minutes before the end (you know, when they’re reaching the last place on the map and they’re about to start singing “We Did It! We Did It!”) she begins to cry and complain that the end is coming. She becomes so consumed with anticipating the end that she misses out on enjoying the final 5 minutes – which is about 1/4 of the show!
Likewise, we can be so busy scurrying around protecting ourselves or lamenting the inevitable disappointment to come, that we miss out on the pleasant and good things in life. Or sometimes because blessings come in a form we don’t recognize or anticipate, we reject them.
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
Wilderness here is exactly how we use it metaphorically – it describes being lost, a sense of aimless wandering. and since it’s the same word often used to describe where the Israelites were after leaving Egypt, you have to wonder if this is also an intentional throw back to Exodus.
A land of salt without inhabitant.
The “land of salt” refers to the fact that we will not produce fruit. No crop in the world can grow in land with high salinity. Salt is dangerous because it attracts water away from the plant. Also, because a plant can’t filter the salt out, it gets absorbed into the plant where it can lead to stunted plant growth, leaf drop, “burned” leaves, root death, wilting and eventual death.
And “a land without inhabitants” means that in the midst of all this stuff . . . we will be alone.
Doesn’t that describe how we “feel” when we lose heart? Wow, you could lose heart just reading to all of that.
But here’s the good news. Jeremiah doesn’t stop with the bad news. As Paula Rinehart points out, we’re at a crossroads. We have not one, but two choices. . .