Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the one who trusts in mere mortals and makes mere flesh their strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes, but shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. That person 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.”
I recently attended a retreat for medical and dental students with the theme of “Work as God Intended”. In a very challenging season for healthcare professionals, they sought out an opportunity to come together and discuss what God wanted from them and for them. They prioritized spiritual growth over a well-deserved day of physical rest.
In their school and work life, healthcare professionals are expected to be resilient. They see things none of us should ever have to see. They tell people news they would never want to receive. They are there for us in exhilarating highs and excruciating lows. They are the person who witnesses our first and our last death. Over the course of their often lengthy careers, they are in the room of countless milestones. They’re there for everything routine, chronic, acute, and emergent. All this while working diligently to have a life outside of work. Without resilience, no healthcare professional could endure the mundane and extreme aspects of their work.
Right now, their work lives are increasingly stressful. Even with the hope of the end of the pandemic, there are still many days between today and that expected future. As I sat in that (virtual) room with students and practicing healthcare professionals, I was struck by how much they prioritized putting God first, even in this season. When life gets tough, they run to the Lord – in prayer, the scriptures, and in community. All around them may be an uninhabited salt land, but because they have planted their lives in total trust of the Lord, their roots have grown deep, reaching deep underground springs to sustain them.
Trust is at the core of that resilience. Trust is a path not just to survival in a harsh climate. Trust helps us grow roots so deep that while we may look barren on the surface, we become immovable.
I remember when I started this job, my new boss brought in some plants that were barely stubs. They were precious to him, some had belonged to family and some had been the decorations for his wedding. In the bustle of life, they had withered on the surface. When he brought them to the office, we set them in the sunlight and googled the best schedule on which to water them. Within a few months, they started greening up. Their roots had been deep, waiting for the opportunity to soak in the resources they needed so they could grow. They had endured a long and challenging season, but they were never dead. Now, 6 years later, they’re starting to outgrow their pots, and have started flowering for the first time since moving into our office. Our gray little office space is vibrant and full of life.
We’re all like that plant. If we grow our roots deep, we can endure and thrive. Even after a long and harsh winter, we can bloom come spring. We have to trust the Lord and seek Him out in the scriptures, prayer, and community. We’ll remember how to bloom again when the time comes.