Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

Whose Hope the Lord Is

Jeremiah 15:10 - Jeremiah 21:2

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Several weeks ago I went on a river hike.

At the very beginning of the hike my nephew, Camden, said to me,     "Oh, M, I have to show you my favorite tree.  You're just gonna love this tree."

"What am I going to love about it?"  I asked him.

"You're just gonna to love it." He replied.

So we hiked.  Him running ahead, and then turning around to wait.

Me walking through the river, walking up the trails, climbing over rocks, watching for the tree.

I wasn't sure how he would know we had reached the tree.  We had passed hundreds of trees already and I could see more in front of us.  They lined the entire riverbed... trees of all different kinds, shapes, and sizes.  What is it, I wondered, that sets his tree apart from the others?

And then we came around a bend, and without him even having to say a word, I knew we had reached the tree.

And he was right...I loved it.

I am not sure why I loved it so much, but I did.  Immediately.  Perhaps it was the shade it provided across the entire path.  It might have been the rocks that seemed strategically placed by Nature herself, to offer a place of rest and refuge from the heat.  It could have been the boughs that stretched across the path on one side, and over the river on the other.  Strong boughs, just right for climbing in. Boughs that had a large curve  every so often along the branch, almost as if the tree had prepared a sitting place for those who chose to venture there.

It was the largest tree along the river bank.  The trunk was old, and weathered.  The tallest branches reached high above the other trees that lined the path.

As I stood there, sheltered by its shade, I couldn't help but wonder what stories it could tell of others who had stood there beneath it's sheltering boughs.

This morning when I read chapter 17 of Jeremiah I was reminded of Camden's tree.

Jeremiah spoke of a man whose heart had departed from the Lord.  A person who would rather trust in another man than in God.  He likened this man to a juniper tree growing in the desert...the parched places...the wilderness.  (Jeremiah 17:5-6)

Then he spoke of a man that trusted in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

"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 17:8)

I love the thought of the Lord offering refuge from heat, faith in time of drought, and fruit in every season.  My thoughts turn to the blessings of protection, guidance, sustenance...

and then, to hope.

Blessed is that man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

There are days when the only thing that has gotten me through is my trust in the Lord, and an unfailing hope in His ability to protect, guide, and provide sustenance for me...for my family.

Days when the only thing that has kept me standing in the intense storms that surround me are the roots that stretch deep to find the Living Water.

Roots that stem from trust, that lead to hope.

Hope is an unspeakable gift.  It is what sustains the soul in moments that would otherwise destroy us.  Hope is what carries us through the places we could not get through on our own.

Hope in the Lord.

Hope that started as a simple seed and then stretched roots deep to waters flowing, and boughs high to Heaven reaching.

That's what happens when a tree is planted by the waters.

Someday perhaps I will grow old and weathered with roots spreading and branches reaching.

Maybe a young boy will say of me, "I have to show you one of my favorite people, you will love her..."

"What am I going to love about her?"  The person might ask.

He will reply, "You're just going to love her."

And when they come around the bend and see me standing there perhaps they will recognize me as the person the boy was speaking of and think to themselves, "Oh, I do love her."

And they may not know why, exactly, but I hope they will see in me the kind of person whose hope the Lord is.

Emily Freeman