No Fear, No Anxiety

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and 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.

Jeremiah 17:7-8


Imagine that. A life free of fear and anxiety.

When the scorching heat comes, no fear. When the drought appears, no anxiety.

Heat and drought should naturally produce fear and anxiety, especially in the hearts of the people Jeremiah was initially addressing here. As an agrarian society, the people of Judah lived off of the land. Heat and drought spelt trouble – withering crops, shrinking water supplies, and ultimately starvation among the people; loss of life. No wonder fear and anxiety.

But here Jeremiah presents a description of a truly blessed person, someone who lives a life free from fear and anxiety despite the heat and drought that life brings to them.  That person knows no fear or anxiety because they know that despite the heat, their leaves will remain green; in the midst of the drought they will not cease to bear fruit. This seems contrary to the natural order of things.

However there is a reason why such a blessed person can experience a life of deep peace and joy in the midst of the trials of life, whatever they may be. They are planted by water, sending out their roots by the stream. This is crucial for us to understand if we are to experience this life Jeremiah talks about.

According to Jeremiah, fear and anxiety arise when the roots of our life – that is, our basic assumptions, hopes, dreams and beliefs – are not found near this life-giving water. Short and stubby roots, or roots miles away from water will produce fear and anxiety. In that scenario we put roots into something -anything – that we think will help us, anything that will satisfy our thirst. Such a person has nothing to draw on. No strength to derive. No nutrition to enable them to produce fruit.

What then is this life-giving water? Where can we get it? How can we put roots into it and start noticing the benefits? The answer lies in the first part of the paragraph:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.

See that? It is emphasised twice, just to be clear. Sink yourself into the Lord. Put down deep roots of trust in to him. He is the water that will bring an end to your fear and anxiety.

Notice though the nuance. Trust in the Lord. Trust is the Lord.

Trusting in the Lord is about hearing his declaration of himself, revealing himself, his character, his attributes, his plan and promises and choosing to believe what he says about himself. That is trust in the Lord.

But it goes further: trust is the Lord. Yes, roots down to the living water of God is about knowing what he says and believing it. But it is also about relationship. Knowing things about God and knowing God are different yet related. This is the distinction Jeremiah is making. It is not either or; it is both.

This is how someone can live a life ultimately free from fear and anxiety. Investing themselves in knowing about God, hearing him address us, where we are at, through his message to humankind in the Bible. It is through hearing him speak that we know him – directly and personally. We are invited to cultivate a relationship with God himself.

The more we use his gift of his word to us through the Bible, through meditation, reading, hearing it preached, reading other books that help us to understand it better, singing its sparkling truths and preaching it to ourselves every day, we will develop longer, deeper and sustainable roots into the only person that will deal with our fear and anxiety – God himself.

How does God supply this to us? Through his Son:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-8

So how are you going to put your roots down?