This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:5-10)
Two kinds of people are contrasted in this passage in Jeremiah 17: those whose trust lies solely with human beings—including their own ingenuity—and those who depended on God. The trust factor is revealed in the heat of hardship. With the threat of invasion hanging over them, the people of Judah trusted false gods and military alliances instead of God, and thus were barren and unfruitful. In contrast, those who trust in the Lord flourish like trees planted by water (see Psalm 1).
In times of trouble, those who trust in human beings will be impoverished and spiritually weak. Sadly, they will have no strength to draw on. But those who trust in the Lord will have abundant strength, not only for their own needs, but even for the needs of others.
God makes it clear why we choose to rely on people and other things more than him—it’s a matter of the heart. Our hearts have been inclined toward sin from the time we were born. We doubt God’s intentions and fall back on what we can see, touch, or feel—humans, rather than the invisible God. God’s loving laser zeroes in on attitudes stemming from doubt, and he offers to excise them through his power. But as with any doctor whose diagnosis calls for surgery, we have to submit to his treatment. Are you willing?