“Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5-8).
Jeremiah introduces two immutable laws of spiritual life here: One leads to life and hope and the other to death and hopelessness. These are the keys to understanding why some Christians enjoy constant peace and joy in the Lord, while others grope in despair and hopelessness.
How can you know when you are trusting in man rather than in God? If you fall apart when someone else lets you down, or if the actions of others affect your walk with God, then you know you are leaning on the arm of flesh!
If you put your trust in man, you are guaranteed to get hurt because at some point someone will let you down and deeply disappoint you. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Much of the hurting and hopelessness you experience is a result of being let down by someone you trusted. A wife may argue, “If only my husband would change, I’d be happy! He really has hurt me deeply. He neglects me and doesn’t even try to understand. He is killing my love.”
Your problem is not a husband problem, it is a God problem. Jeremiah says you are like a shrub in the desert—not seeing when the good comes, but rather inhabiting the parched places in the wilderness. This means you are cut off from your true supply of happiness and hope. You have neglected the Lord and are not drawing on His living water. You have become like a dead, dry desert shrub—fruitless and barren!
Do not trust in someone or something other than God to bring you happiness and hope. What you think will solve your problem might only make you feel worse.
The first six chapters of Joshua describe the glorious work God did among His people when they first entered the Promised Land. Israel had been freed after four hundred years in bondage and then they had wandered in the wilderness for forty years. But now they were at the border of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey that He had promised them years before. So they crossed over—and what happened? Immediately Joshua turned to the younger generation of men and separated them unto God. Scripture uses the word “circumcised” to describe their preparation, but the deeper meaning is, “They were made ready” (see Joshua 5:2-7).
Why did Joshua do this? Now that they had crossed over the Jordan River, they faced the thick, impenetrable walls of Jericho. In the natural, conquering this enemy would have been impossible for the ragtag Israelites. Yet God was telling them, “I have blessed you with My incredible riches these recent years, but your work is not yet finished.”
How did the Israelites prepare for this battle? They didn’t sharpen their swords and shine their armor. Instead, the preparation took place inside their hearts. God commanded them to circle the city singing songs, praying and waiting on Him. Finally, He had them raise up their trumpets and issue a single blast. In an instant, those mighty walls came tumbling down.
Joshua and his men then performed mighty exploits, defeating their enemies, inheriting greater lands and seeing victories as never before. In fact, Joshua did something even Moses did not do: He defeated thirty-one kings. That was a tenfold increase over the kings Moses had defeated. I believe this is a picture of what the Lord wants to do in all our lives. He wants to bring a tenfold increase; He wants to pour out His Spirit in amazing ways! And He wants us to believe He wants to do it all. In short, He wants us to possess a crazy faith.
“Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you’” (Joshua 3:5, ESV).
Recently, a distraught sister in Christ wrote these words to me: “I am terrified. I think it would be wonderful if a hydrogen bomb fell on us, especially on me and my family. It would all be over for us in such a hurry. We’d be with Jesus! I lost my husband to cancer and one of my two unmarried daughters has health problems and hasn’t worked for two years. I just got out of the hospital and am recovering from a broken back. We have suffered terribly for the past few years. Members of our fellowship are being persecuted, and my friends are all suffering unmercifully. Fear and anxiety are my lot in life. Mr. Wilkerson, we are hurting! Is there no hope for the Bride of Christ?”
This woman is just one among thousands who write us of their despair and hopelessness. We hear from so many who deeply love the Lord but live in situations and conditions that appear hopeless to them. They speak of dead-end marriages and health and family problems, and they use such phrases as: “There is no way out!”
“God doesn't seem to hear me.”
“Nothing ever changes. It just goes from bad to worse!”
“Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. I wish the Lord would come and get me out of this pit!”
It has been said that the only things worse than insanity are despair and hopelessness. But praise the Lord, we serve a God of hope! The Greek word for hope is elpo, which means “to look forward to with pleasurable confidence and expectation.” The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
Paul introduces an incredible idea: “that you may abound in hope.” He means, “that you may have enough to spare; a supply that is overflowing, excessive, beyond measure!” Some may think, “That sounds like a cruel joke. In my present condition all I want is a ray of hope, just a single evidence of answered prayer. Just one little sign of change!”
But, beloved, God’s Word is true! He is a God of hope—a hope that is excessive, overflowing and beyond measure.
In a weary moment, Jesus stopped to rest at a well, but there was a lost woman who needed help. Once again, He was energized. His disciples came again to find their Master so relaxed, so refreshed! “He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32). That is the secret energy of resurrection life!
Often I feel like a drained car battery. If you forget to turn off the light of your car, all you get the next day is that dreaded noise—urr . . . urr—the empty clinking sound of dead machinery.
I know something is wrong among today’s believers, for we have been promised the very same energizing life of Christ. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).
How clear it is in Scripture that the Holy Spirit dwells in us to bring forth constant life. God has provided His very energy to come into our mortal bodies and give us physical strength. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened (made alive) together with him” (Colossians 2:13).
Are you full of the Holy Spirit? Then by faith, lay hold of new life and energy! “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits . . . so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2, 5). Titus also speaks of this: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:5-6).
Thank God for the present greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ! Appropriate it by faith—and walk in resurrection life and power!
Jesus has never been more willing to show His power than He is right now because He has never been more powerful than He is right now. Our faith has to go beyond the point of death. It must look into the face of everything that is dead and proclaim, “Jesus never gives up on the dead!” We should never give up on anyone or anything, no matter how hopeless the situation seems.
Notice in the story of Jairus and his daughter (Mark 5:21-43) that the Lord was not interested in showing His power to unbelievers. In fact, He tells them in that room, “No man should know it” (5:43). In other words, “Don't tell them what you saw—the miracle is between us who are in this room.”
Those who hold on in unswerving faith are in for a glorious manifestation of Christ’s resurrection power. Only you and the Lord will know all the intimate workings. He will astonish you; He will thrill you; He will show you His glory!
The present greatness of Christ can be summed up in one powerful verse: “In Him was life” (John 1:4). He was—and is now—energizing life. He possessed life. Jesus was constantly being renewed as He drew on a secret reservoir of that which was never depleted. He never wearied of the crowds pressing in on Him. He was never impatient.
When He called His disciples to come aside for a while to rest, they departed to a quiet place across the lake. But the crowds were waiting there too. Not once did He say, “Oh no! It’s that problem bunch again with their silly complaints and stupid questions. Won’t it ever end?” Instead, He saw the multitudes and was moved to compassion. He was energized by the Spirit and went to work. He had days of toil and nights of prayer—and still He had time for the little children!