Trees and Trust
By Whitney Hopler
“But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever.” – Psalm 52:8 NIV
I often thank God for the sycamore tree in my backyard. The tree is so tall that it towers over me, so wide my arms cover just a small portion of its bumpy trunk, and full of so many branches they surround me and cover me with a multitude of green leaves. All I have to do is look at that tree to remind myself to trust God. That massive tree, which has a greater size and lifetime than I do, lifts my perspective. It reminds me to stay rooted in my relationship with God so I can keep growing and branching out in all the ways God has designed me to do so. Sometimes I pray and meditate while leaning against the tree and gazing up into its crown and the sky beyond that. When I do, I feel connected to God and experience God’s wonder through nature.
Trees can point us to God by growing our perspective and inspiring us to trust God more. They stand as silent witnesses of God’s faithfulness. Trees often exceed our height and age. Many of the largest trees we encounter have already lived longer than we have, and some trees on our planet right now are truly ancient. Bristlecone pine and yew trees can live up to 5,000 years, giant sequoia and ginkgo biloba trees can live up to 3,000 years, and redwood trees and olive trees can live about 2,000 years. Not only can olive trees live a long time, but they can also regenerate. When an old olive tree dies, a new olive tree can generate from its roots in the same place. In Psalm 52:8, the Bible uses the image of a flourishing olive tree to describe someone who trusts in God’s faithful love. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV describes a person who trusts God like a thriving tree:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
Psalm 1:3 compares God to a mighty oak tree, reminding us that we can trust in God’s strength. Trees have a long and rich history in the Bible, which often uses them to represent God’s faithful provision. In the Garden of Eden, the tree of life was a symbol of eternal life (Genesis 2:9). When Adam and Eve sinned, they were banished from the garden, and they lost access to the Tree of Life since sin separates us from our holy God and eternal life with him. However, Jesus Christ came to earth to restore our relationship with God, giving us eternal life. He did so by dying on the cross, which was made from the wood of a tree. The cross reminds us that God is faithful even when we are unfaithful. We can trust God in every situation, no matter what.
When we look at a tree, we can see God’s handiwork. We can see how he has designed trees to be strong and beautiful. We can also see how God has designed trees to be useful. Trees give us shade, food, and medicine. They also help to clean the air and water. All remind us God is a good and generous God who cares for us well. So, when you need a quick reminder to trust God more, spend some time enjoying trees. Take a walk in the woods or sit underneath a tree to rest in its shade. Let trees remind you of God’s faithfulness and help you trust God, knowing he will help you thrive.
Wonderful Heavenly Father, help me to trust you as a tree trusts you. Help me to be rooted in your love and grow strong in your grace. When I feel weak or afraid, it reminds me of the strength of the trees. Remind me that you are the source of my strength. When I’m feeling hopeless, it reminds me of the hope of the trees. Remind me you are the God of new beginnings. I trust you, Lord. I trust you to be faithful to me. I trust you to provide for me. And I trust you to give me hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photo Credit:Unsplash/Janko Ferlic
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.
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Originally published Tuesday, 25 July 2023.