Before the recent Alabama storms, I planted a garden of mostly herbs because I love to cook with them. For years, I’ve grown them in pots on my patio. A couple of months ago, just outside my kitchen, I had a dead tree and its roots removed. The area of turned earth seemed the perfect spot for a small herb garden, so I began one.
I put in some older plants that survived our very slight winter, such as rosemary and chives. Others were new; lavender, a few marigolds, one tomato plant, and a young lemon tree. Some were seeds I had harvested and saved from last year’s basil and oregano. I planned where I wanted the seeds to come up and set them there.
But it is a fact of Nature that seeds do not always bloom where they are planted. Storms happen, and even the best planned garden can be ruined. The power of water can transport seeds to unintended, even odd locations where one might think the seeds would never survive. Yet they do. Healthy plants often emerge through cracks in a concrete driveway, from between patio bricks, or in other uncommon places well away from a gardener’s intention. And they are just as beautiful, just as useful, here in this other place.
It is the same for us. Each of us have personal intentions for our lives. We have our dreams, our goals. Then come the unexpected storms of life that carry us to places and through circumstances we would never have chosen. We begin to suffer, and may wonder if we can survive.
We pray that our troubles, our cross, whatever it is, will leave us.
But the storm does not appear to stop.
So, we become angry, or depressed. We wail and cry. We don’t deserve this storm!
Then we allow ourselves to become victims. And victims do not bloom–anywhere.
The alternative is to accept that we have been crushed by a weight too strong for us to survive on our own. This is complete surrender, but do not confuse it with giving up. Because if we allow it, this will be where grace takes over, where God’s mercy is shown to us. This is where a new door opens, or a different way is revealed to us. This is when we trust, and where we cooperate with God’s all-knowing love.
The fact that we don’t want to be where we are does not mean that we will not survive, and grow, and thrive in this different situation. Today, we see only our present trouble. But tomorrow is where hope lies.
This is truly what it means to be a Christian. This is truly what it means to have Faith, and what Good Friday was all about. Without the Cross–and our daily crosses– there can be no joyous resurrection, no Easter. Our suffering has a purpose just as Jesus’s suffering had a purpose.
We may not understand the purpose, but our all-knowing God does understand. And He will be with us through out.
Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.–Isaiah 41:10