Do you remember the sudden ‘windstorm’ that hit Calgary around suppertime late in June. It swept through the city with a force that toppled trees and downed power lines. At the height of the brief storm I stood looking out my window noting the way the vicious wind was whipping my poor struggling tomato plants. (I started them from seed so I am particularly attached.) The little plants were no match for that wind and they were blowing over at a 90o angle. I feared they would snap where the stem meets the soil. Immediately it occurred to me that exposure to the elements strengthens the plant.
A radio program I recently heard spoke of the same thing. It featured a professional gardener who gave advice on tethering a newly transplanted tree. Around the tree three stakes should be placed in the ground at equal distances from each other. From each of these anchors the tree is tethered, allowing for movement when the winds come. The tethers are important to keep the tree perpendicular as it grows. The gardener warned that the tree should not be merely tied to a post run alongside it. This method will not allow for the movement which the tree needs to grow strong and sturdy.
A few days later I had the privilege of celebrating with the women from our Friday Ladies Prayer Group. We met in a home for prayer, fellowship and a wonderful pot luck lunch. There was much conversation (you know how women are), laughter, and even a few tears. We were celebrating God’s faithfulness and goodness toward one of those in attendance who is facing ongoing challenges in life’s journey.
As I looked at the faces of the women in that home I could see that they all could tell of God’s faithfulness in their lives. They all had suffered or were in the middle of adversity (trials) of some kind. They were like the tree bending in the wind but with their tethers firmly in place. They were anchored to: (1) the Lord, Himself, (2) His precious Word and (3) a community of believers who have gathered around them with prayer, support, and encouragement. They are growing stronger in the Lord. One way I can see this is in their expressions of gratitude. They might not even recognize growth in themselves but outsiders can see the fruit.
We all, like these women, are blown and buffeted by the storms of life. But God has told us He works through those very situations we often just want to flee. Remember James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking in nothing. We are rarely joyful with the challenges we face. It’s in the struggles we discover our inadequacies and learn to trust God’s goodness and love. Only He can produce something beautiful out of the trials.
Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, A Place of Healing, covers this topic in an insightful and encouraging manner.
Romans 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.
2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Hebrews 12:9-11 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Contributed by Carol Cheesman