By Debra Whittington: Notes from a Church Lady
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9
As I sat gazing out the window, I was distressed to see the pine tree in our front yard mercilessly beaten by the heavy wind we were enduring that day. The wind howling outside had already taken a toll on my nerves that day and now I was afraid the strong wind would break the limbs on the tree. Although the limbs swayed vigorously in the wind, not a single one was broken.
This was the same tree that only a couple of weeks earlier I was concerned the branches would break under the heavy, wet snow weighing them down until they were almost vertical. I asked Mark to go outside and knock the snow off the branches and he told me the limbs would spring back into shape when the snow melted.
While the snow was indeed beautiful, I had no idea what would become of our tree. As the storm abated and the snow started melting, I watched and waited to for the outcome.
Mark was right. As the snow melted, the limbs slowly started returning to their original shape. The moisture from all of the snow caused the tree to sink slightly as the moisture packed the earth around the roots that enabled them to become even more secure than they were before.
All of my concern was for nothing as with each passing storm I now know will only serve to strengthen the tree. Now, I am not saying that a storm won’t eventually break some of the branches, but it will be a part of the tree’s life and will add character.
Whether it was concern as was the case in this instance, I know there are times I worry about things I have no control over. The apostle Paul told us what to do with worry. The New Living Translation states Philippians 4:6 this way,
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
The part that says thank Him for all he has done isn’t always easy. Who wants to thank God when trials and trouble invade our lives? This old world is a challenge each and every day, as we have no idea what will happen even the next moment. James 1:2 tells us, “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble come your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.” (NLT)
Automatically I think that joy comes when the trial is past, but when I ponder the verse further I think about the joy (not happiness) that can be ours when we know that we aren’t going through our trials by ourselves and that some good will come from the trial.
Romans 8:28 promise us that. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
As the storms of life hit us, we can know that trials will make us stronger especially if we are deeply rooted in the Lord. The psalmist knew this as he wrote, “Thou, which hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.” (Psalms 71:20-21)
Standing at my window and gazing at the tree, I take great comfort knowing that the Lord is always watching over me while I am going through various trials in my life. There are times when I think I will break under the pressure, but each time the Lord gives me the strength to endure. With His help through prayer, reading the Word, fellowship with other believers, and other ways, I am trying to put down deep roots that will stand any storm that comes my way.