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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, February 8, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Jeremiah 17:5–10

Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
    and make mere flesh their strength,
    whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit.

The heart is devious above all else;
    it is perverse—
    who can understand it?
I the Lord test the mind
    and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
    according to the fruit of their doings. (NRSV)

These verses from the prophet Jeremiah are likely the cobbled-together sayings of Jeremiah and his compatriots. Their combined message is anchored in an understanding of trust in God and realizing that human happiness comes with aligning our hearts with God. The misery of life often arrives when we put trust in ourselves, having misplaced allegiance. In that case we dry up like a shrub, parched, thirsty, and seeking all kinds of substitutes for the luxurious flow of God’s life through our veins.

I think of poet Mary Oliver who begins her poem “Thirst” with the line “Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have.” Yes, I think she recognizes that in our life we often begin with thirst. Like the words from Jeremiah, we find ourselves in the parched place, the place of longing, the place where something is missing. Yes, the spiritual life, or anything worth committing our lives to, likely begins with realizing we thirst for what we don’t have. So we try to fill it. We sip the cocktail or cruise shopping websites or social media or call a friend just to fill the emptiness, the fear, the loneliness. And yet the thirst persists and persists.

It may be days or weeks or even years that we thirst. But at some point—perhaps when we are out of distractions or when we’ve run through all the thirst-quenching options—we may just find that our shriveled spirits, our parched souls, our thirsty hearts encounter what at first may seem to be a trickle and then a stream and then a flow and then a flood of promise. Your worrying and wandering stumble upon the gentle waiting God who offers what you’ve searched for all along: the underground stream that knows your thirst and joyfully fills you with abundance for this day and the next and the next!

Dear God, we know our thirst and we know our longing, but what we may not know is that you know us more fully than we do ourselves. In our longing, our loneliness, our thirst, plant us by your generous and gorgeous rivers of goodness, that our hearts would be satisfied and our lives would be showered with your abundant love. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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