Tried but Turgid

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Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

(Psalm 1:1–6)

To paraphrase Herb Alpert and Paul Simon, “I don’t know much botany,” but in a university course I once took, I learned about the “turgidity” of leaves. When a leaf is healthy, it can withstand the onslaught of strong winds accompanying storms. It may be whipped around, but because it is turgid, the leaf can bend with the storm and survive for the season.

In Psalm 1, we see a key component for the Christian’s survival in trials. We are tried by all kinds of things, but if we soak in the word of God, then our souls develop a spiritual turgidity and we are enabled to bring forth fruit. The psalmist indicates that, if we will be fruitful in times of trial, if our “leaf” will “not wither” then the roots of our life need to drink well from the streams of God’s word (v. 3).

The opening verse informs us that a certain kind of “social distancing” is required if our leaf will be turgid. We need to avoid ungodly advice, ungodly associations, and ungodly attitudes. Such deliberate social distancing is replaced with spiritual nearness: to the word of God (v. 2).

As we draw near to the Lord by drawing upon his word, we grow in spiritual health, which enables us to persevere in the face of drought. We thrive rather than wither (v. 3).

In these days of worldwide crisis, what a time to drink deep at the water of God’s word! As we practice social distancing, let us make the most of our opportunity to meditate upon God’s word and to develop a real delight in it. If you are married, and/or have children, use this time to strengthen the spiritual turgidity of your family. Each of us can share the truths of God’s word with others through various means, including face to face (as long as you remain at least two metres apart!).

This trial may or may not pass quickly. We don’t know. What we do know is that what we do with our time will determine whether we bring forth fruit in this season. Let’s determine to invest our time by drinking deeply from the still waters of God’s word.