What I Learned From a Tree

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This winter has been particularly tough. After months of my oldest playing basketball, my second also started playing. It was crazy busy. Right smack in the middle of both of them playing, I got sick. One illness morphed into another and then antibiotics didn’t work. I ended up with still hanging on to a sinus infection and developing pneumonia. I could hardly get out of bed, but you know how this goes. Moms don’t get sick days, especially single moms. I still had to do laundry, run kids to practices, teach kids, cook, etc. It was so hard.

When we get stuck in the winters of our life while the people around us are in spring or summer, it can be very difficult and overwhelming. We get discouraged. We start questioning ourselves. We start questioning God. We wonder if he sees us, if he cares. There was a woman in the Old Testament who wondered the very same thing. She ended up, through no choice of her own, pregnant with Abraham’s son. However, she was mistreated so she fled. She ended up alone and in the middle of the wilderness. In the midst of her despair, an angel appeared to her and promised to multiply her offspring. Notice he didn’t promise to relieve her suffering, but he did promise that the Lord would see her through. Hagar called God “a God who sees me.” When we feel all alone and in the desert of life, God is a God of seeing. He is not oblivious to our suffering. A.W. Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” Our suffering achieves something in our hearts and lives that the springs and summers of life simply can’t.

When we moved into our house a couple of years ago, I noticed there was poison ivy growing around our tree. I pulled it up and sprayed the area with Roundup because I didn’t want my kids getting into poison ivy. There was something I did not consider though: the tree. The poison ivy came back despite the Roundup, but my poor tree started shedding its leaves in the middle of spring. I learned a valuable lesson. The next spring, a few leaves sprouted and that was it. My tree was so sad. In fact, I had a man stop by my house and give me a quote on uprooting it because it was “obviously dead.” I politely declined. I had other things to worry about besides the tree. However, this week, as I was pulling in my driveway, my daughter cried out, “Look, Mom. Look at the tree!” It was budding with beautiful, white blossoms.

I feel like God was speaking directly to my heart. Sometimes, we write off things in this world as dead, but they really just need time to heal. When trees are in winter, they don’t feel ashamed because they have no leaves. They know that spring is coming, and they just do what God made them to do. In the same way, when we are going through the winters of our life, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others who are in spring and summer (ie. having an easier time), and instead, just keep doing what God wants us to do. We trust him to bring about a spring in our lives. He will eventually; He just doesn’t always act on our timetable. It may take much, much longer than we want, but he will work on our behalf. Heartache and loss never get the final say in our lives. They’re not the end of our story. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we know that a day is coming when all our suffering will be removed. Until then, we keep on trusting, keep on hoping.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:5

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