Here it is: the end of another summer. Not technically as far as the seasons go, and certainly not everywhere in the world, but here in North America just about all students have ended their summer vacation and have returned to school. Where I live, there are hints of autumn in the air lately too—wisps of coolness in the breeze, and leaves are starting to turn colour and fall from the trees. Our summer was dry and hot. It was wonderful for those who spent their time at the beach, but after a winter with very little snow, and spring with very little rain, the farmers were having a hard time getting their crops to grow. We have already been warned of higher food prices to come because the fields have yielded less fruit this season.
The same principal holds true for the fruit of our lives as well. What we feed our hearts and minds will determine the fruit we produce. Proverbs 11:30 says that the fruit of the righteous is like a tree producing life. Just as a tree produces fruit that sustains physical life, the fruit of a righteous person can sustain or improve spiritual life. We can be an encouragement or a comfort to others, but only if we have been fed enough ourselves. If we are weary, sick or disheartened, how can we find it within us to give hope to another?
There are several ways to feed your soul. You can read uplifting and educational books that will help your mind focus on the right things. Spend time with good friends who encourage you (but remember that they can’t give continually to you without being recharged themselves). Take time to talk to those who have walked your path before you and allow them to share their wisdom. But the two most important ways are through Bible study and prayer. Spend time with God, and let Him replenish you. Let Him help you to grow into a tree producing life.
Suffering. We question why it has to happen, and we try to avoid it, but it is all around us. Many wonder why God would let bad things happen to good people. Others argue that none of us are good. We shouldn’t be surprised by our troubles. God has told us that we will face trials, (Genesis 3:16-19, John 16:33) and He tells us in 1 Peter 5:6-7 what to do with them.
I have heard people quote 1 Peter 5:7 many times over the years, and very often they have omitted the word 'by' and changed the tense of the verb 'casting' to 'cast'. They have had to do that because they have not quoted it with 1 Peter 5:6. The two verses are in fact one sentence. When verse 6 is not included, the full meaning of the passage is lost. Yes, it is encouraging to tell someone that God cares for them, and to cast their burdens on Him, but there is more to it than that.
For many of us, certainly for me, a lot of our anxieties are a result of our pride. We want to be in control, to do things our way, and to make something of ourselves. What we need to realize is that God already has a plan for our lives, (Jeremiah 29:11) and if we will simply agree to His plan and do things His way, we will have no need to be anxious. (Matthew 6:25-34) He will take all of our troubles onto His shoulders. It’s not that we won’t have any trials to face, but He will be right there facing them with us, giving us the strength and resources we need to get through them. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
It takes humility to depend on someone else, to allow someone else to take care of us. But God promises that in due time—HIS timing—He will exalt us, IF we will humble ourselves. Biblical humility does not mean that we need to have a low opinion of ourselves. In fact it will allow us to have more confidence, because if we submit to God’s plan for our lives, and let Him take care of our difficulties, we know that everything will work out. (Romans 8:28) If we read 1 Peter 5:6-7 together we will realize that the way to be successful, exalted, is to humble ourselves, and we do that by casting all our cares on God and trusting in His power and goodness.